Police: Woman was dead before massive fire; son arrested

CLAYMONT, Del. (WPVI) -- New Castle County Police say a man has been charged with killing his mother, who was found dead in her Claymont apartment after a fire.

Officers said Tuesday that 33-year-old Michael Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his mother, 57-year-old Juanita Lara.

The fire broke out on Dec. 21 at the Harbor House Apartments. The blaze destroyed 24 apartments.

Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Robert Fox said at a news conference Tuesday that Lara was dead before the fire began. He did not give the cause of Lara's death.

Police say Rivera was arrested on Dec. 22 in Pennsylvania on unrelated charges. Authorities say an investigation linked him to Lara's death.

Rivera will be extradited to Delaware after he is tried on the Pennsylvania charges.
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