Elmira, NY Arson Fire, 1959
Girl Admits Setting Fire That Killed 7
An attractive 15-year-old girl was unable today to explain why she deliberately set fire to her home
killing six of her sisters and a brother whom she loved "very dearly," police reported
Psychiatric tests were scheduled for sandy-haired Jane Shusko, one of 10 children, who admitted she threw a lighted match on some papers in a clothes closet late Saturday night.
The ensuing fire swept her family's half of a two-story, two-family house in a middle - class neighborhood, resulting in the asphyxiation of
her sisters and brother, ranging in age from 2 to 12 years.
The girl's mother, Mrs. Lillian Shusko, 39, who was sitting on the front porch when the fire broke out, escaped uninjured. A sister, Catherine, 13, rescued the other child, 11 months,
with the assistance of a neighbor. The father, Michael, 41, was at work at a cooperative milk plant where he is a farming machine operator.
Authorities said the fire swept through the home so rapidly that rescue of the seven victims was impossible.
Jane, the oldest child, readily admitted setting the fire, police said. In addition, she admitted setting two fires in the home Friday, both of which had been described by firemen as "suspicious."
But, under lengthy questioning, she was unable to offer any reason for setting any-of the fires, police said.
At a neighbor's home when firemen reached the scene, Jane appeared composed as she offered the names of her dead brother and sisters. Later, however, she became shaken and was described
as "upset" but not remorseful. Police quoted her as saying she loved the children 'very dearly."The dead children were Donald,8; Michalene, 12; Dolores, 1; Laura,9; Patsi, 7; Sarah, 4, and Christine, 2.
Children's Court Judge Daniel A. Donahoe, who ordered Jane held for psychiatric tests, took the unusual step of committing her to the Chemung County Jail instead of the Children's Shelter, normal
place for juvenile offenders.