Tag Archives: arson

“Trial by Fire”

It seemed like everyone at the wedding was reading David Grann’s fascinating harrowing New Yorker article about Cameron Todd Willingham. I don’t have a copy of Tom McCarthy’s awesome novel Remainder at hand, but I couldn’t help thinking of it when I was reading this passage in the New Yorker:

To discover the truth, the investigators, with the backing of the prosecution, decided to conduct an elaborate experiment and re-create the fire scene. Local officials gave the investigators permission to use a condemned house next to Lewis’s home, which was about to be torn down. The two houses were virtually identical, and the investigators refurbished the condemned one with the same kind of carpeting, curtains, and furniture that had been in Lewis’s home. The scientists also wired the building with heat and gas sensors that could withstand fire. The cost of the experiment came to twenty thousand dollars. Without using liquid accelerant, Lentini and DeHaan set the couch in the living room on fire, expecting that the experiment would demonstrate that Lewis’s version of events was implausible.

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