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House Fire Investigated for Link to Homicide

January 06, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Police are investigating whether there is a link between a suspicious house fire and a New Year's Day homicide.

Fire broke out early Monday at a home in the 400 block of Missouri Avenue, where Nazario Cortez, 52, lived. Cortez is suspected of fatally stabbing a neighbor Jan. 1.

Capt. Scott Brown, Orange County Fire Authority spokesman, said the fire, which caused about $60,000 in damages, was intentionally set. An investigation is ongoing.

"We don't know if it's retaliation," said police spokesman Matt Reynolds.

The fire follows a report that five of the home's windows were shattered on Sunday, Reynolds said.

Cortez is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 16 on charges he murdered Enrique Lopez, 54, and attacked Lopez's wife, Graciela, 50, with whom Cortez was said to be having an affair. Enrique Lopez shot Cortez, who suffered a minor wound to his left shoulder.

Graciela Lopez remains in serious condition at UCI Medical Center in Orange, Reynolds said.

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