Man held in killing, fire




A Confidence man set his sister on fire Thursday morning, killing her in front of their mother and burning up the family house, investigators said.

Steven Richards, 48, doused his sister, Nadine Richards, 46, with "a flammable liquid" before lighting her on fire in the house they shared with their parents, Steven and Dolores Richards, on the 22500 block of Confidence Road, Steely said.

The father also named Steven Richards left for work about five minutes before the fire, and Dolores Richards witnessed the entire event, neighbors said. Officials have not yet said what prompted the attack on Nadine Richards.

After setting his sister on fire, Stevie, as he is known to neighbors, "walked out of the house, leaving his mother and sister inside," Steely said.

"When the deputies arrived, Steven Richards (the son) was standing on the street in front of the house, watching the fire," Steely said.

The younger Steven Richards was booked on suspicion of murder and arson, said Tuolumne County Sheriff's Lt. John Steely. He is being held on $750,000 bail at Tuolumne County Jail. Arraignment is set for Monday.

Firefighters responded first to the scene, as California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection dispatchers handled a flood of calls from neighbors reporting the house fire about 9:55 a.m., CDF Capt. Julie Honer said.

"I heard the sound of a woman screaming," said William Craig, a neighbor of the Richards for about 20 years.

When he looked outside, "Dolores was out front in her nightgown, watching the house burn."

When firefighters arrived about five minutes after the first phone call, flames had already swallowed three-quarters of the house, Honer said.

CDF Battalion Chief Dan Ward said the fire began in a front corner room on the top level of the two-story house. Flames spread downstairs and throughout the house, he said. He declared the structure a total loss.

The Union Democrat
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