MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The mother of three children who died after a fire in their home in November 1999 was indicted Wednesday on murder and arson charges.
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Sara Louise Howard, 37, has been charged with setting the fire at her 211 E. Liberty St. home in Martinsburg and with leaving her three young children behind as she escaped through a second floor bedroom window.
The indictment by a Berkeley County grand jury charges Howard with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of felony murder, three counts of child neglect resulting in death, one count of child neglect and one count of arson.
She was being held Wednesday in the Eastern Regional Jail on $20,000 bail.
Authorities had said they believe the fire started in an upholstered chair in the living room.
At the time of the fire, police and prosecutors suspected arson, but did not lodge that charge. Since then, independent tests by both the West Virginia State Police and a private lab have confirmed the fire was deliberately set, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday.