More than two years after two young children were killed in a fire that destroyed their home in Martinsburg, WV, their mother is sentenced for their deaths. On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Molly Jo Delgado, 31, was sentenced to serve life in prison without parole. Delgado pleaded no contest to the first-degree murder of her sons 5-year-old Justin “Little Judd” Delgado, Jr. and 3-year-old Delmer Delgado.
The fire happened in January 2017. Firefighters carried the Delmer out of the home and attempted, without success, to save his life. His older brother was found on the bedroom floor where he collapsed trying to get away from the flames on his bed.
The actions of Supervisory Investigator George Harms of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office helped lead to Mrs. Delgado’s conviction.
“ASFM Harms’ work on this case was invaluable,” said Berkley County Prosecuting Attorney Catie Wilkes Delligatti. “We could not have prosecuted and obtained the result that we did without his dedication, which ensured he was able to solve this crime and bring justice to the family of Delmer and Little Judd.”
As a part of the investigation, Harms determined there were two fires set in the boys’ room. This was supported after engineers with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recreated the scene in their Fire Research Laboratory. They conducted four separate tests which proved a fire was set on each of the beds.
A criminal profiler from the ATF also participated. Special Agent Stephen Patrick was the lead interviewer in the case. He spoke with Mrs. Delgado, who admitted she used a lighter to set the fires. Autopsy results showed she had drugged the younger boy with a deadly amount of cough syrup.
Harms is now helping to develop a presentation on the Delgado case for fire investigators, as it features the four key methods they employ: electrical arc mapping, which in this instance ruled out wiring as a cause; fire dynamics analysis, which examines how a fire starts and spreads; fire pattern analysis; and witness interviews