MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee County jury found Darren Carter guilty on Tuesday, March 26 of setting a fire that killed his grandparents following a dispute over stolen cash.
Carter was charged with two counts of felony murder after the May 14, 2018 fire near 25th and Melvina. According to a criminal complaint, shortly after 3 a.m. on that date, firefighters and police responded to a home that was found to be heavily damaged by fire. The victims were found on the first floor, and investigators say it appeared both had been overcome by fire and smoke. Iris Carter, 75, was found on the kitchen floor and Willie Carter, 72, was on a couch in the living room. The elderly married couple was pronounced dead at the scene. Autopsies revealed both suffered smoke inhalation, leading to their deaths.
According to the complaint, investigators initially said the cause of the fire was unknown, and possibly started from an electrical problem in the basement. However, four days after the fire, an anonymous call came in from a male subject who said “Darren,” the grandson of the victims, set the fire.
According to the complaint, Carter admitted he stole from his grandfather and that there was a confrontation in the home in which his grandfather pulled a gun on him. Carter said this frightened him, and on May 14, he returned to his grandparents’ house with lighter fluid — dousing some wood and paper with it before lighting it on fire with a cigarette lighter — tossing the burning materials into a basement window. He said he “wanted to scare his grandparents the way they had scared him earlier.”
Carter is set to be sentenced on May 24.