What authorities once thought was an accidental death of a woman and five children may have been a mass murder

A 1969 tragedy where a Massachusetts home was engulfed in flames in the middle of the night, killing a young mother and five of her children, was then ruled accidental. However, the reappearance of an ex-con at the family grave site on the anniversary of the deaths have authorities investigating into the alleged ‘accidental death’. The ex-con, who at the time of the fire was a teenager living down the street from the home, has now become a person of interest in the tragic death of this family.

Authorities reopened the case in 2010, after the wife of a surviving family member presented to them research which indicates that the ex-con may have had some involvement in the fire. Her findings convinced the family that the tragedy long ago was not an accident.

At approximately 3 a.m. on Sept. 26, 1969, David and Nancy Landers awakened to what they thought was an earthquake. David Landers, three of his children and a cousin managed to escape the the fire which spread through the two story home within minutes. His wife, Nancy Landers and five other children were unable to escape the flames.

Subsequent to the fire, fire officials labeled the fire electrical speculating that the blaze likely began with a faulty power outlet behind a sofa in the living room. Authorities said it was common at the time to rule fires “electrical” when the cause was unknown. However, arson investigators examined the photographs from the scene and concluded that there were two points of ignition and the fire did not have characteristics of an electrical fire.

After the fire occurrence, Mr. Landers and his surviving children lived in a trailer on their property while their house was being rebuilt. According to authorities and family members, Mr. Landers reported smelling gasoline one night outside the trailer. When the father stepped outside to investigate, he found burning newspapers, soaked in gasoline, placed underneath the trailer. Authorities dismissed the incident as a prank, unrelated to the fire that killed his family.

Authorities say the person of interest has a long criminal history, including a charge of armed assault with intent to rob and a conviction of attempted robbery in the third degree. The man has declined through an attorney to speak with investigators.

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