Green Bay teen charged with setting fire that killed baby nephew

Marcelia Fonseca in court. (WBAY Photo)
Marcelia Fonseca in court. (WBAY Photo)(WBAY)
Published: Mar. 5, 2020 at 9:38 AM CST
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A 15-year-old Green Bay girl has been charged with homicide for the death of her infant nephew in a house fire last June.

On March 4, charges of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide and Arson were filed against Marcelia Dolores Flora Fonseca.

Fonseca is accused of starting the fire that killed her 11-month-old nephew.

On June 7,

Several people escaped. They told firefighters that the baby was inside a second-floor bedroom.

Firefighters located the child and started life-saving measures. The baby was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy found the baby had suffered burns on 100 percent of the body. The severity of the burns ranged from first degree to third degree. There was soot in the baby's mouth, larynx, trachea and bronchi.

Other occupants of the home were treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

The Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to help with the investigation.

Investigators concluded that the fire started in that second-floor bedroom. "It was determined that the fire resulted from the application of an open flame to available combustible materials," reads the complaint. They determined the fire was started in a metal wire cart that was located near the baby's playpen.

A lighter was discovered in an upstairs hallway. A matchbook was found in the baby's bedroom.

Witnesses told officials that Marcelia was the one to first report the fire to her family members.

The girl told investigators she went to the upstairs bedroom, smelled smoke, left the door open to make sure the cat could get out, but did not remove the baby from the smokey room. The baby was in a playpen and unable to get out. She "didn't think it was a big deal," reads the complaint.

Marcelia later said she closed the door behind her.

During the interview, Marcelia admitted to setting fires in other homes. One was in a home in Milwaukee. "She said that she thought fire was cool and they lit a fire in her house. This one got a little bigger and her older sister had to help put it out. She said this was inside of the house. She said now she just burns wood at camp fires and she is the 'fire keeper' when they camp. She said that she only started fires in a house two times. Her friend’s house and her house."

Marcelia also told investigators that "she tried to kill her sister" when she was six. She stated that she wanted the sister "dead" and "put a pillow over her head."

When asked what she was trying to do, Marcelia responded, "I was trying to kill her."

Investigators obtained a Child Protective Services report from 2018 that stated Marcelia had been "harming" her younger siblings.

One report stated that Marcelia had choked one of her siblings.

Investigators also learned that Marcelia had been involved in "40+ incidents of disruptive behavior" at school.

Charges were filed in Brown County Court on March 4. Action 2 News was in court for Fonseca's initial appearance.

"I'd note the aggravating factor in this case appears to be that, because it was an intentional fire, because we have the information from Marcelia that she would have been the last individual that was in the bedroom, because there's four or five different versions from her about how this occurred and what she did, but most significantly, she did not make an admission that she set the fire," said prosecutor Wendy Lemkuil.

The court set bond at $250,000.

"She conceded to officers she understands to officers why it looks like she did, because she was the last person there," said Lemkuil. "However, admitted she had knowledge the child was in that playpen, that this wire cart was within five to ten feet of the cart then that was set on fire, and the fact that she also made admissions she closed the door."

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