Unsolved Homicides: 2010 Arson Kills Two Erie Women
For the past nine years, several area children have grown up without their mothers, after two Erie women were killed an arson on west 18th street, in Erie.
The deliberate fire intended to kill the two women, who were trapped in their third-floor attic bedroom.
But just who started the deadly fire and why, remains a mystery, nearly a decade later.
“July 25th, 2010, it was about 3:00 in the morning,” Tanya Mailea remembers it, as if it were yesterday. “It crosses my mind more than you would think.”
But it was more than nine years ago, when Mailea woke up, and rushed outside to see her neighbors’ and friends' home, in flames, “It was like a nightmare, it was horrible.”
Especially when she realized Gwyneth Henry, 44, and Tyreesha Richardson, 31, were inside, trapped in the third-floor attic bedroom, “I remember there was an air conditioner in the window, and she had pushed the air conditioner out of the window and that led to a back draft, the windows everything just boom, the fire came out of the windows,” said Mailea.
“There was a lot of fire, a lot of smoke,” Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone also recalls the fire vividly. “We found two females up in the attic who had perished,” Santone continued.
Chief Santone was the chief fire investigator at the time, and knew immediately it was suspicious, “There was a lot of fire in the stairwell, which was very unusual, because there wasn't a lot on the stairwell, other than the carpet.”
So Santone used a machine to take samples of the carpet, “The samples came back as positive for gasoline.”
At a news conference shortly after the deadly fire back in 2010, Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook ruled the victim’s deaths homicides, “I've the death of Tyreesha Richardson and Gwyneth Henry, as a result of smoke inhalation with carbon monoxide to toxicity, and I've ruled both deaths a homicide.”
It was arson.
Investigators say someone had intentionally poured gasoline up the stairs to the women's third-floor attic bedroom, then lit the gas on fire.
There was no way out for Richardson and Henry, whose bodies were found charred, on top of each other on their bedroom floor.
Two mothers who left behind seven children, “Miss Gwyn wanted to take care of everybody, she was like the block mom, the neighborhood mom, I often wondered why somebody would do that to anybody, let along Miss Gywn and Tyreesha,” said Mailea.
We've learned Erie police investigated several theories at the time, but none of which led to the person who struck the match, “The hard part is on the police side, trying to prove that this person started this fire, we can prove that somebody started it, the hard part is trying to prove who started it,” said Santone. “If somebody doesn't speak out, it's hard to solve these crimes sometime,” Santone continued.
Where the burned house once stood, is now and empty lot.
And as time ticks on, friends like Mailea believe, even if this case forever remains cold, justice will eventually be served, “I'm a strong believer in the universe, so where the law fails, the universe will pick up. I hope in their last moments, they remember Miss Gwyn and Tyreesha and their kids.”
Erie News Now tried to get the latest on the investigation from Erie police, the two lead detectives who were on the case at the time, have since retired from the Erie police department.
Erie Police say the case remains open. If anybody has any information what-so-ever, you're asked to give them a call.