Murder Charges May Be Filed In Meth Fire Deaths

Friday, April 3rd 2009, 4:48 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Three people have died from meth-related fires in the past three weeks, and Tulsa Police say they are looking at murder charges.

On March 10, flames overwhelmed a building at the Royal Arms Apartments. Four people were sent to the hospital.

Armando Nunez died a day after the fire, and his friend, Maria Martinez, died late last week.

Fifty-five-year-old Nicki Cain is still in an Oklahoma City burn unit, and police say the man who was cooking meth that started the fire is still too injured to talk.

Martinez worked the past nine years at the downtown Doubletree Hotel as a housekeeper. 

"The sadness is everywhere," said Stephan Meier, Doubletree general manager.

Meier says Martinez was devoted to her three young children and one of the most reliable employees he's ever had.

"Maria was one of a kind," he said. "She was very sweet, darling of a lady, most sincere smile."

On Monday, another fire started by meth killed 28-year-old Sean Ketcher. Investigators say he was cooking meth in his Comanche Park duplex along with his wife, Amber Ketcher, who was taken into custody. Four children were home at the time.

"They're putting everybody around them at risk," Sgt. Mike Huff said.

Huff says it's gone beyond a drug charge or even manslaughter. Instead, he says, police are looking at murder charges.

"Those cases are going to be treated absolutely as a homicide investigation," he said. "We're going to put people in jail for cooking meth when somebody dies."

For those left behind, losing a friend in such a violent way is impossible to understand and hope the law catches whoever is responsible.

"We're sad to see a wonderful friend of ours that has gone much too soon and as a businessman, I think, it's scary to see what's happening in our city," Meier said.

City officials are hosting community summit on meth 6 p.m. Monday in the OSU-Tulsa auditorium. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited.