Car fires in Delta called arson; two vehicles destroyed

Friday, May 31, 2002

DELTA, Mo. -- A family whose vehicles were targeted by arsonists has nothing but suspicions to point them in the direction of who might responsible for the crime.

Investigators are hoping to come up with something more substantial.

The Elliott family, who live on Jackson Street in Delta, woke up in the wee hours Wednesday morning to discover two of their cars engulfed in flames.

De'Shea Elliott, 42, said her 15-year-old daughter, Ashley, had a friend who had come to spend the night Tuesday. The girls turned their light out at 2 a.m.

About 2:15 a.m., De'Shea Elliott said she heard a car squealing away.

"I thought it was just some fool hot-rodding," she said.

She got up from bed at 2:50 when she heard a horn blowing.

The horn was sounding from her 1990 Ford Aerostar van parked in the driveway. By that point, the van was already well on its way to being charred from bumper to bumper.

Another of Elliott's daughters, Katie, had her car parked on the street in front of the house. It was also burning. Another car in the driveway was untouched.

Family members speculate that teen-agers involved in a high-school disputemay have set the blazes.

The Delta Fire Department was called about the fires at 2:59 a.m., said fire chief Alvin Frank.

He said it's the second time in eight months firefighters were called to Jackson Street because of a car fire.

The earlier incident, involving a car belonging to a different family, is still under investigation.

On Wednesday, both vehicles at the Elliott house were fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

Frank said chances were slim that the fire was caused by natural events.

"We think it was deliberately set," he said.

De'Shea Elliott said both cars were only covered by liability insurance, so replacing them will be an out-of-pocket expense.

"I'm a single mother," she said. "It's hard to stay on your feet when somebody knocks you down this hard."

Elliott said she doesn't have any enemies. A softball fan and former coach, Elliott goes to as many of her girls' games as she can and always kept extra bats, balls and cleats in the van.

Ashley's softball equipment was in the van along with a favorite glove belonging to her mother. De'Shea had kept the glove since she was 21.

The case is under investigation by the state fire marshal's office.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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