Pasadena (California) Star News staff writer Emmanuel Parker reports in an article titled, “Fatal fire in 200 remains unsolved.” Excerpt:
ALTADENA — Sometimes the simplest crimes are the hardest to solve. So it is with the death of Justine Marie Kaposy, 14, a popular Rose City High School student burned beyond recognition on December 3, 2000, in a house fire in the 1700 block of Oxford Avenue.
Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives labeled the fire an arson and Justine’s death a homicide. But 18 months after her death, no one has been charged or arrested and, as one investigator put it, the case “is not going anyplace.”
“The mother, brother and Justine were the only ones present,” when the fire destroyed the house, Sgt. Rich Longshore said. Mother and son escaped with minor injuries, Justine didn’t.
“We know it was not an accidental fire. One of those three started it. One of them is dead and the other two are not cooperating with law enforcement,” he said.
The case stalled after detectives asked Emily Marie Kaposy, 47, the mother, and her son, Sean Kaposy, 12, to take polygraph tests. They initially agreed.
“But they never showed up or called and since then we haven’t been able to contact them,” Longshore said. “We can’t force them to take the tests, which are not admissible as evidence in California courts.”
Justine’s father, Paul Kaposy, 51, said after detectives requested the tests he consulted an attorney who said they shouldn’t submit.
He added the family is indignant that the detectives treated Sean as a suspect.
“They questioned him and my wife the night of the fire at the Altadena Sheriff’s Station. They separated them and were trying to get Sean to admit he started the fire. He was devastated. He left the station crying,” said Kaposy, who said he advised them not to take the tests.
“My son didn’t have anything to do with the fire,” he added. “The kid risked his life trying to save his sister.
“I told the detectives `If you’ve got a case, make it,’ ” Kaposy said. “I assume they were just fishing and really had nothing to go on.”
Guilty or innocent, anyone suspected of a crime is well advised to refuse to submit to any polygraph interrogation. The “test” is little more than a pretext for interrogating a suspect without a lawyer. If you are ever asked to submit to a polygraph “test” with regard to a criminal investigation (whether or not you’ve been told you’re a suspect), be sure to read Chapter 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector first.