Mother Burned Children to get back at husband

Reprint of article by MARTHA IRVINE --Associated Press
Tuesday November 3, 1998

A woman accused of killing her daughter and injuring her son in house fires has allegedly confessed, saying she started the blazes because she was angry with her husband.

The 1993 fire that killed 23-month-old Sarah Rivera had been ruled an accident. But the case was reopened after her mother, Maria Rivera, admitted trying to kill her 4-year-old son, Christopher, by setting his bed on fire and locking him in his room Oct. 23, police said.

Dan Georgevich, fire chief in this working-class suburb south of Chicago, said Mrs. Rivera confessed to setting both fires to get back at her husband, who had favored the two children.

"They were having their ups and downs in their marriage. We believe that there may have been some sort of a disagreement before the second fire," Georgevich said Monday. "We believe it was some sort of retaliation on her part."

Mrs. Rivera told police she put her daughter in a closet in August 1993, started a fire with a lighter, closed the door and left her to die, Georgevich said.

Mrs. Rivera, 31, was held without bond on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated arson.

Christopher, who had burns over 40 percent of his body, was in critical but stable condition Monday at the University of Chicago Hospital

Fire officials said the boy's father, also named Christopher Rivera, wasn't home when the latest fire started and is cooperating with the investigation. He has refused to speak to reporters.

"He's angry. He's confused. He is deeply hurt," Georgevich said. "He still loves his wife. He loves his children. He's running the gamut of emotions right now.

"I really feel sorry for him because he's got a little boy battling for his life, he's lost a little girl and his wife's in jail."

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Single mom kills 4 sons in order to torment children’s fathers

By MINERVA CANTO - The Associate Press - Ref 5778
August 19, 1999 1:13 EDT
VISTA, Calif. (AP)

A woman who shot her four sons to death and blamed it on drugs, alcohol and bad relationships has been convicted of murder and now faces the possibility of a death sentence.

Jurors will return next week to consider whether Susan Eubanks, 35, should get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Ms. Eubanks shot her sons, ages 4 to 14, after an argument with her boyfriend in October 1997. She stopped once to reload the .38-caliber revolver and then shot herself in the stomach.

She was convicted Wednesday.

Defense attorney Bill Rafael claimed his client -- an unemployed, debt-burdened nursing assistant -- was a good mother until work-related injuries led to her addiction to pain killers. She also began drinking to kill the emotional pain caused by bad relationships with men, Rafael said.

Prosecutors argued that Ms. Eubanks deliberately plotted to kill the children to torment her boyfriend and the boys' fathers -- her two ex-husbands.

Eric Eubanks, the father of the three youngest boys, testified he was concerned after receiving a cryptic message on his answering machine from Ms. Eubanks that said: "Say good-bye."

The day of the killings, Ms. Eubanks' boyfriend, Rene Dobson, called police and asked deputies to accompany him to her home. The two had been drinking all day and argued, and she took away his car keys and slashed his tires.

Eubanks stopped by during that time, and Dobson said he told the father, "She's a little whacked and I want you to know that's she's talked about killing herself and the boys."

Less than three hours later, deputies found 14-year-old Brandon Armstrong shot twice in the head, laying face-down on the living room floor, his half-eaten cereal spilled around him.

In a bedroom, his 7-year-old brother, Austin, was found sitting upright on the top level of his bunk bed, dead from two shots to the head. Two younger brothers, 6-year-old Brigham and 4-year-old Matthew, were on the bottom bunk, also with gunshot wounds to the head.

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In a bedroom, deputies found Ms. Eubanks crying and clutching a bloody towel to her stomach.