BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - The man who Palm Bay police said broke into a home last year and set his wife and son on fire in a deadly blaze partly witnessed by his family, was found dead at the Brevard County Jail Complex over the weekend, authorities said.
Edgard Fuentes, 65, was awaiting trial on two counts of murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of arson in connection with the Jan. 11 fire at his Palm Bay home in the 500 block of Ixora Avenue.
A cellmate found Fuentes' body just after midnight Saturday, slumped forward with a sheet around his neck that had been tied to a bed frame in his general population cell. The cellmate - who investigators said had been out of the room for 15 minutes - told corrections deputies who then attempted to revive Fuentes. Investigators said notes from Fuentes were found in the cell, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.
Police said that prior to the murder Fuentes had gotten into an argument over ownership of a vehicle several days earlier with family members at a bowling alley.
With Fuentes death, the case will likely be closed since he was the only suspect, according to detectives and witnesses.
Palm Bay detectives "were aware that he hung himself over the weekend,” said Lt. Steve Bland, spokesman for the agency which investigated the grisly slayings. It was also the first of 35 reported homicides in Brevard County for 2017 and one of eight cases that involved domestic violence.
Palm Bay detectives said Fuentes broke into the single-story family home about midnight, splashed his sleeping 61-year-old estranged wife, Daisy Tapia, with the gasoline and then got into a struggle with his son Erik Montes, 32, before using a Bic lighter to set off the fire.
Tapia and Montes died hours after the fire at the burn center at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Montes' young daughter saw her father engulfed in flames, screaming.
Fuentes captured the next day at an interstate rest stop, was also hospitalized for burns he received while igniting the fire. He was initially treated at a burn unit in Orlando for nearly a month before he was well enough to be released and booked into the Brevard County Jail Complex wearing bandages.
It was not immediately known what type of medical treatment he received at the jail or if there were any other incidents involving Fuentes during his stay. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has not released information about the case or returned calls to FLORIDA TODAY about the incident.
The case remains under investigation.
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