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Deaths May Not Be Due to Blaze

Times Staff Writer

Sheriff’s detectives on Wednesday continued to investigate the suspicious deaths of a 30-year-old Paramount woman and a young boy after firefighters discovered their bodies in an apartment blaze that officials believe was deliberately set.

Maila Handog Acedo, 30, and the unidentified child, who neighbors said was her son, suffered trauma to their bodies that was unrelated to Tuesday’s fire, said Deputy Louis Castro, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The cause of the deaths as well as the fire are under investigation, he said.

Officials had not confirmed the identity of the boy, who was approximately 8, or his relationship to the woman, said Craig Harvey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

An unidentified man, who was critically injured in the blaze, remained hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition with severe burns, Castro said.

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Investigators believe that the fire that broke out about 12:45 p.m. at the Century Place Apartment complex in the 13800 block of Paramount Boulevard was intentionally set, Castro said. He would neither confirm nor deny that the injured man was suspected in the blaze or in the victims’ deaths.

“No arrests have been made,” Castro said.

Wendy Jackson, who lives next door, said that the three were a family and had moved into the apartment in the last month.

She said Acedo was a healthcare worker and that neighbors had frequently heard arguments about money.

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Jackson, whose son and teenage nephew were at home alone when the fire broke out, said the boys heard arguing shortly before they smelled smoke.

“All of a sudden there was black smoke coming from everywhere and you could hear the wood cracking,” said Jackson’s nephew, Jovan Maxwell, 16.

The teenager said he stepped out to his balcony after his cousin saw the man leap over the railing of the adjoining balcony and fall about 10 feet.

Maxwell said neighbors who rushed to the man’s aid urged him not to move.

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The man, clad only in shorts, was severely burned, Maxwell said.

“His skin looked like if you touched him, his skin would fall off,” he said.

The man, who at first appeared to be trying to communicate with the neighbors and apartment staff around him, did not answer when asked whether anyone else was in the apartment, Maxwell said.

Firefighters arrived soon after and extinguished the blaze within 10 minutes, said Inspector Ron Haralson, of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

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Later, as workers cleaned up the gutted apartment, Maxwell said that he peeked inside. He said that the blackened bedroom had blood everywhere.


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