May 25, 2006

Couple Charged with Setting Fire to Kill Autistic Teen Son

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

ALBANY, OREGON--A couple has been arrested and charged with starting a fire in their apartment, then locking their son, who had autism, inside to burn.

Christopher Air DeGroot, 19, died in a Portland hospital Friday afternoon from injuries he sustained during a May 14 fire in his parents' apartment.

Albany Police said evidence at the scene indicated that the fire had been started with paper on the living room floor, most likely by Nicolaas Dirk DeGroot, 45, and Agnes Elizabeth DeGroot, 48.

"Christopher DeGroot was unable to escape the fire because he had been locked inside the apartment by his parents earlier that morning when they left him alone," a police statement read.

Police reported that the parents had installed on the door a dead bolt that required a key to unlock it from the inside, and that they had also placed locks on the windows which Christopher would not have been able to unlatch.

The DeGroots were charged Friday with first-degree arson and first-degree manslaughter. They were being held in the Linn County Jail Monday on $500,000 security.

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Posted on May 25, 2006