Archive for Monday, January 25, 1993


January 25, 1993


Lawrence investigators today were blocked from interviewing the only adult survivor of an arson fire that killed two people because of her unstable medical condition.

Ella Farmer, 43, was taken off a respirator Sunday at Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., but had a setback during the night.

Farmer was injured at 2:44 a.m. Jan. 17 in a second-floor apartment at 714 W. 25th.

Her daughter, LaTonya Farmer, died after passing two of LaTonya's nieces, ages 2 and 4, out a window to safety. A friend of LaTonya's, Brandy Martin, 13, died Jan. 18 from injuries suffered in the fire.

One survivor, Monechia Fisher, 7, was released from KUMC last week.

Rich Barr, Lawrence fire marshal, said he was uncertain whether Mrs. Farmer's setback was life-threatening.

"The medical staff there said, `We're doing all we can for her,''' Barr said.

A KUMC spokeswoman today confirmed Mrs. Farmer was taken off a respirator Sunday. She was in serious condition today, the spokeswoman said.

Barr said an 11-person investigation unit had followed more than 98 leads and interviewed in excess of 150 people about the arson fire.

Although tests haven't been completed by Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Lawrence investigators said the fire was set in a vacant first-floor apartment.

Investigators today remained unsure how the fire started or who was responsible, Barr said.

"At this point in time we haven't defined any suspects," he said.

Authorities continue to look into allegations drugs were being used in the apartment building and that a former tenant threatened to burn the building down.

Barr said it hadn't been established that anyone intentionally tried to injure the six people in the Farmers' apartment at the time of the fire.

"Indications we have are that the Farmer family was not a target," he said.

Authorities urge anyone with information about the fire to call 841-0007 Ext. 171 or 1-800-KS-CRIME.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.