Jackson County authorities on Wednesday accused a 33-year-old Grandview man of causing the deaths of his infant daughter and a Kansas City woman in a Grandview house fire in September.
Stephen D. Elijah faces two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in connection with the Sept. 29 fire. It killed his 14-month-old daughter, whose name authorities did not release, and Anika M. Hobley, 37.
Two girls, ages 10 and 6, jumped from a window about 10 feet above the ground to escape the burning house in the 12000 block of Belmont Avenue. They knocked on the door of a neighbor, who called 911.
When fire crews responded just after 3 a.m., they found Elijah in front of the home attempting to put out the blaze with a garden hose. Elijah told them that his infant child was dead on the back deck and that a woman was in the basement.
An officer found the infant and, along with another officer, tried to revive her. Elijah allegedly told them, “My baby is dead; she doesn’t have a heartbeat.” The officers continued to perform CPR until paramedics arrived, according to court records.
Elijah also allegedly told officers, “She is always starting fires in the fireplace,” but court documents do not say who “she” was.
Kansas City firefighters found Hobley’s body in the basement. Investigators determined the infant had been in the living room inside a playpen when the fire started.
Police and fire investigators later determined someone deliberately set the fire.
According to court records, the blaze began in the basement at the base of a set of stairs and quickly spread. The Missouri state fire marshal determined that a chemical had been used to ignite the fire.
Although he initially denied involvement, Elijah eventually told investigators that he had set the fire with gasoline, according to court documents.
Both victims died of smoke inhalation, according to the Jackson County medical examiner.