NewsLocal News


2 juveniles sought on murder, arson charges after deadly Lakewood apartment fire

Police say they believe fire that killed 2, injured 10 Monday morning was intentionally set
3 hospitalized following Lakewood apartment fire
Posted at 2:45 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 19:49:38-04

DENVER — Two juveniles who are still at large as of Tuesday afternoon are suspected of intentionally setting a fire at a Lakewood apartment complex that killed a woman and her child and injured 10 others, police said.

The department did not identify the two male juveniles whom they have obtained arrest warrants for on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson, and will not because they are juveniles, spokesperson John Romero said.

Additionally, Romero positively identified the two people who were found dead inside the Tiffany Square apartment building as 31-year-old Kathleen Payton and 10-year-old Jazmine Payton-Aguayo.

Family members identified them as the two who were killed on Monday when they spoke with Denver7. Payton-Aguayo is Payton’s daughter, the family members said.

Jefferson Jr./Sr. High School said in a letter to families that Payton-Aguayo was a fourth grader at Deane Elementary School. Students at Jefferson Jr./Sr. High School, Molholm, Edgewater and Lumberg elementary schools were affected by the fire.

Romero said the fire appears to have been intentionally set, and the scene and incident are being treated as a homicide investigation. But Romero did say that police do not currently believe the woman and her daughter were targeted specifically. How the suspects started the fire remains under investigation.

"As far as types of accelerant, the way they did it, we're still looking into that," Romero said in an interview. "But we are confident that we know who the two are that started this fire and killed that mother and daughter."

The fire happened at the Tiffany Square apartment building, located at 935 Sheridan Blvd., around 4:15 a.m. early Monday morning. At least 14 units were damaged in the fire, and every resident of the 32-unit building was displaced because of the fire.

Seven people were treated and released at the scene, including a firefighter, Romero said. Three others were hospitalized.

Mother, young daughter killed in Lakewood apartment fire

“It doesn’t feel real at all,” Christine Gallegos, Payton-Aguayo’s cousin, told Denver7 Monday. “…I feel like I lost my best friend.”

Other residents told Denver7 they felt lucky to be alive.

Davian Flores said he and his wife were sleeping when their 2-month-old daughter started crying. Flores said the couple grabbed their three young children as fast as they could to escape, but not before the flames reached their door.

"As I was waking up, I had looked outside and noticed everything was orange," he told Denver7 Monday. "By the time I had made it down the stairs, my feet were on fire."

This is a developing news story that will be updated.