BAYSIDE — A fire that broke out in the basement apartment of a Queens home led investigators to a possible crime scene.
"We're saying at the present time that it's a murder-suicide situation," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who spoke to reporters on the scene. The comment was broadcast by 1010 WINS.
A woman, 57, whose body was covered in cuts, was transported to Flushing Hospital, according to the FDNY. Initially, she was recovered from traumatic arrest by rescuers, but was later pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, fire officials said.
Rescuers also discovered a man, 56, in the process of attempting to hang himself in a closet, Brown said. The fire turned out to be a small one, FDNY officials said.
The man was transported Wednesday night to New York Hospital-Queens. He was in stable condition Thursday, police said, and charges against him were pending.
"They opened the closet door and they found a male, apparently trying to hang himself," Brown told reporters.
The woman had been cut, possibly by a knife, Brown said.
"Apparently she had been struck with some sharp instrument," he said, confirming the wounds might have been caused by a knife.
Rescuers received a call at 7:24 p.m. to the two-story home on 214th Place near 40th Avenue for a fire that started in the basement of the home, FDNY officials said.
The woman had been found inside the basement unit on a bed, Brown said.
Investigators believed that gas in the kitchen of the basement apartment may have set off the fire, which prompted a neighbor to call 911, Brown said.
On Thursday, the Department of Buildings issued a vacate order for the house, citing too many residents.
Meanwhile, neighbors on the tree-lined street, near 40th Avenue, said Thursday they were shocked to hear about the bloodshed.
"I thought it was just an arson. I didn't know that it was a murder," resident Joe Kim said.
Kim said the suspect didn't seem like the type of person to spark such violence.
"I don't know much about him, but he doesn't seem like a person capable of doing such terrible things," he said.
The landlord of the couple's building, who identified himself only as Mr. Kim, said the suspect was a transient out-of-work truck driver with a habit of losing his cool.
"He's a short-tempered guy," the landlord said. "He didn't last long wherever he worked."
The owner said he had gotten fed up with the suspect, and was about to evict him.
"He hasn't paid rent since January, when she moved in," he said.
The woman had knocked once on his door, saying the suspect had threatened to kill her, the landlord said. The incident was never reported to police, he said.