Blaze Covered Up Strangulation

By Tom Tracy

A devastating blaze that ripped through a Troy Avenue apartment may have been set to cover up something even more horrific – a murder, police and firefighters speculated last week. Officials said that firefighters putting out a blaze inside 1388 Troy Avenue in East Flatbush found 47-year-old Marie Bontemps in the back of the ground-floor apartment during the height of the fire at 2 a.m. on December 26. But the sad, yet routine investigation into the fatal blaze was turned on its ear later that afternoon, when officials from the city’s medical examiner’s office determined that Bontemps did not die during the fire, but had been strangled to death sometime before its eruption. News of this finding brought forth a slew of murder scenarios, as well as suspect. One such suspect is the unidentified man – believed to be Bontemps boyfriend – who showed up at the address after the fire. Neighbors told reporters that the man, who had been seen with Bontemps on several occasions in the last few weeks, showed up at the address just as firefighters pulled the 47-year-old out of the blaze and tried to revive her. The man screamed, “My God!” and ran off, witnesses said. It was unclear if investigators had questioned the man. Police were told that Bontemps was a quiet woman who did not openly squabble with her boyfriend or anyone else. Cops from the 67th Precinct confirmed that they had never been called to the address for a domestic dispute. As of this writing, the fire marshal had not determined what started the fire. Cops are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to come forward. Tipsters, police said, could receive up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the one responsible for Bontemps death. Calls can be made to the NYPD CrimeStoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

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