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January 04, 2017

Man faces charges three murder charges in 13-year-old South Jersey arson

Deadly fire happened July 9, 2004 in the Cramer Hill neighborhood

A Texas man accused of killing a South Jersey family of three by setting an arson fire nearly 13 years ago is finally facing three counts of felony murder.

Jesus Perez-Rivera, 31, now of Killeen, Texas, formerly of Camden, had his bail set Wednesday at $2 million cash or bond by Presiding Criminal Division Judge Edward J. McBride Jr.

The deadly fire happened July 9, 2004 in the Cramer Hill neighborhood.

Perez-Rivera is accused of setting the fire which killed Maria Silva, 29, her husband, Luis Silva, 32, and her 6-year-old son, Carlos Cruz.

The fire was reported at about 4:50 a.m. at the victims’ residence on the 900 block of North 22nd Street.

The three dead were among nine people rescued by Camden City Fire Department and transported to the hospital. 

Firefighters found several of the victims unconscious and dragged them to safety after locating them using devices which detected their body heat in the soot and smoke. Others used a fire extinguisher to break down a blocked doorway.

The City of Camden Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was “incendiary.”

Perez-Rivera moved to Puerto Rico with his family shortly after the fire, was eventually identified as a suspect.

He was taken into custody by the Killeen police on May 25, 2016 and held in a Texas jail until he was extradited to New Jersey.