NEW ORLEANS, LA – A tragic incident unfolded in the early hours of Wednesday morning when three children lost their lives in a house fire, allegedly ignited by their father following a domestic dispute, according to local law enforcement.
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) reported receiving a distress call from a woman at 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday. The caller, identified as the mother of the children, claimed her children’s father was threatening to set their residence ablaze. A mere ten minutes later, a fire was reported at the same address.
Emergency services were promptly dispatched, arriving at the scene by 12:20 a.m. to find the house fully engulfed in flames. Despite the swift response, an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, rescued from the inferno, were pronounced dead at the hospital approximately an hour later. A 3-year-old boy was also found deceased inside the home. The mother was reportedly at work during the incident.
The NOPD quickly identified 29-year-old Joseph Washington, Sr., the children’s father, as the primary suspect. A manhunt ensued, leading to Washington Sr.’s apprehension on Wednesday. His vehicle was found abandoned and partially submerged in the Mississippi River. Later, police received information that Washington Sr. was in another vehicle on the I-610 Eastbound at the Elysian Fields exit. Despite an attempted escape by jumping off the overpass, he was apprehended.
Washington Sr. now faces charges including three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, and one count of aggravated arson. The children’s cause of death has yet to be released by the coroner.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, New Orleans interim Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick referred to the children’s deaths as “tragic and senseless,” expressing collective outrage, disappointment, and deep sadness over the horrific event.