Investigators are now offering a reward for information that leads to the conviction of an individual who started a Hulett Street fire that killed a man and three of his children.
Officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced they are offering up to $10,000 for information related to a May 2 blaze at 438 Hulett St. in the city's Arbor Hill neighborhood. Schenectady Police and the county's Arson Task Force are offering an additional $1,500 and $500 in rewards, respectively.
The reward offering comes only five days after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albany declined to prosecute a Saratoga Springs man initially charged with touching off the fire that killed David Terry, 32, and his children: 3-year-old Layah, 2-year-old Michael, 2, and Donavan Duell, who was only 11 months old. The only child to survive was 5-year-old Sa'fyre Terry, who continues to recover from burns on 75 percent of her body.
"This senseless and horrific act resulted in the deaths of four people, of which three were young, innocent children," said Thomas Cannon, a special agent from the ATF's New York Field Division. “We are asking the public to provide any information that would lead investigators to those responsible for this heinous act of violence. The victims deserve nothing less.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the ATF Albany Field Office at 431-4182 or by email at ATFTips@atf.gov.
The ATF announced the reward just hours before family and friends of those killed are expected to gather at the fire scene to plead for the public's help to solve the case. The group intends to meet at 6 p.m. by the vacant lot where the charred home was demolished last spring.
Robert Butler spent nine months in jail after being accused of arson stemming from the blaze—a charge that could have brought him the death penalty. But photographic and documentary evidence helped his attorneys absolve him of the charge and he was released from jail on Friday.
Federal prosecutors haven't indicated what led to the charges being dropped. They indicated the gravity of the crime and the potential punishments coupled with the "unusual and complex facts" necessitated further investigation.
Butler was released three days prior to the deadline for prosecutors to reach an indictment.
Reach Gazette reporter Justin Mason at 395-3113, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MasonAbridged on Twitter.