LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas woman who waged a court custody battle for her 6-year-old son set the boy afire earlier this month, igniting a house fire that killed them both, police and arson investigators found.
Gasoline was detected on first-grader Gavin Palmer's clothing, and the deaths of the boy and his mother, Renai Palmer, were investigated as a rare arson murder-suicide, Las Vegas police homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Wednesday report.
The Clark County coroner's office said Thursday the cause and manner of the two deaths remained under investigation.
Firefighters arriving shortly after 8 a.m. on Oct. 8 reported finding the 47-year-old mother and her first-grade son unconscious in a burning bedroom in the house several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.
The boy's father, Sean Murray, told the Review-Journal that he and the woman ended their relationship when Gavin was 1 and shared custody of the boy.
"I'm glad that I know what really happened, but it doesn't make it right," Murray told the newspaper on Wednesday. "It breaks my heart."
Renai Palmer's brother, Levon Zeron, was in the home when the fire started. He told the Review-Journal during a candlelight vigil days after the deaths that he tried to fight flames but was overcome by smoke. Police said investigators don't believe Zeron had any involvement with the fire.
Murray said he last saw his son and ex-girlfriend Oct. 6, during a custody exchange.
"That day Renai was extremely apologetic for things that happened in the past, like our custody battle in court years ago," Murray recalled. "It was weird, but I didn't think much of it."
Court records show a contentious custody fight, including a dispute over the boy's last name, that began in March 2017.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com