Son charged in fatal Peekskill fire

October 28, 2008 6:09:07 PM PDT
There are more questions than answers Sunday after fire ripped through a home in Westchester County. Two people were found dead inside.Now, the son of one of the victims is accused of setting the blaze.

The tragic deaths are very upsetting to residents in the quiet Peekskill neighborhood. The victims, both 51, were found inside the home, where police now stand guard. Then came word of the shocking arrest.

"My stomach is in knots right now," friend Tom Underwood said.

Underwood stood outside the house he sold to his good friends, a house now gutted by fire. His friends, according to police, were killed there.

"Kathy and Thomas Asaro, both deceased in the rear room," Peekskill police chief Eugene Tumolo said.

The fire was deemed suspicious though, and police began an investigation that led to the arrest of Jason Bethea.

"Jason Bethea, who is Kathy Asaro's son, was charged with one count of murder in the second degree," Tumolo said.

Police revealed little more, no motive or how the couple died, or if there were problems in the family.

"I know Jason, and...he never came off to be a bad person," Underwood said. "And for someone to do something like that, especially a relative, that's pretty screwed."

The fire began in the rear of the home. Neighbors saw the flames shooting into the night sky.

"I just looked across, and the flames were so high, and I came running out," neighbor Elizabeth Koch said. "She used to walk by us down at the corner at the bus stop, to catch the public bus every morning. She was a very friendly woman. Very friendly. It's just a shame."

Bethea is in custody. Additional charges are expected.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tim Fleischer

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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