Calif. man arrested in 1989 NH arson that killed family of 4, including 2 kids, in apartment

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Calif. man arrested in 1989 NH fire that killed 4

CONCORD, N.H. — A recently created Cold Case Unit has brought criminal charges against a California man in the 1989 deaths of four family members in a New Hampshire apartment house arson, authorities said.

David McLeod was arrested Wednesday in California on four counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Carl Hina, his 12-year-old daughter, Sara, his wife, Lori, and their 4-month old daughter, Lillian, Attorney General Michael Delaney said.

A medical examiner ruled the victims died from smoke inhalation after the Jan. 14, 1989, fire in Keene, a city of about 25,000 residents an hour’s drive southwest of Concord.

McLeod, who lived in Keene at the time of the fire, was arrested Wednesday in West Sacramento, Calif., where he has lived for 15 years, Delaney said.

It hadn’t been determined who was representing McLeod because courts were closed when the attorney general made his announcement Wednesday evening. There was no telephone listing for McLeod in West Sacramento.

McLeod, 53, frequently visited the apartment building where the Hinas lived, Senior Assistant Attorney General William Delker said. He was a suspect in the original investigation, but no arrests were made and the case remained open, Delker said.

Several residents were in the building at the time of the fire, but all escaped except for the Hina family.

In 2009, a new law created New Hampshire’s first Cold Case Unit to investigate the state’s more than 100 unsolved homicides and suspicious deaths. The dedicated unit includes two investigators from the state police, an investigator from the attorney general’s office and Delker as prosecutor.

“It gives you the resources to focus on the cases,” Delker said.

The unit focused on the Hinas’ deaths, renewing the investigation and interviewing new witnesses, he said.

“This was one of the first ones we started investigating, and this was one of the first ones we focused on and the first one the investigation allowed us to pursue and obtain these arrests warrants,” he said.

McLeod originally was expected to be returned to New Hampshire late Thursday, but Delker said more paperwork was needed and he didn’t know when McLeod would be moved. McLeod was represented at an extradition proceeding by the California public defender’s office; no one answered the phone there Wednesday evening.

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