Deceased Elmer Street fire victim identified as Alberto Moya-Cuevas from Mexico
The man who died earlier this month as a result of injuries suffered during an arson fire has been identified as 48-year-old Alberto Moya-Cuevas from Mexico.
Moya-Cuevas is one of two people who were injured March 12 after a boarded up, vacant house was set on fire in the 200 block of Elmer Street. When firefighters arrived on-scene, they found heavy flames venting out of a front bedroom window, and a fire victim was sitting outside of the house. Firefighters later found Moya-Cuevas lying on a mattress in the third-floor attic.
“I only got a quick look at Moya-Cuevas, but it appeared that the majority of the injuries suffered by him was due to heavy smoke,” Chief Michael Welsh said Wednesday morning. “I didn’t really see a lot of blistering or bubbling of his skin, but like I said, I didn’t really get a good look at him.”
Both victims were taken to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where Moya-Cuevas passed away on April 12. The Trentonian was unable to confirm the second victim’s condition at press time.
According to Welsh, the fire was ruled an arson because officials found several possible origins of the blaze, suggesting that someone may have set the fire in different locations throughout the house before escaping. Welsh said it appears a fire was ignited in the kitchen, in a rear bedroom, on a stairway and somewhere on the second floor of the home.
“There were several different areas of origin that were not relevant to each other,” Welsh said. “I don’t know if they were set simultaneously or at different times. Samples of wood were sent out for testing to see if an accelerant was used.”
Welsh said the house had been vacant for quite some time and the gas and power was shut off prior to the blaze. He believes the two victims were homeless squatters.
“Whether they were drinking or doing drugs at that location, but living somewhere else, I don’t know,” Welsh said. “But they weren’t supposed to be in the building.”
When asked whether he believed the second victim, identified as Gustavo Lima, was involved with igniting the blaze, Welsh declined to speculate.
“We don’t know his whereabouts at the start of the fire,” Welsh said. “All we know is that he made it out of the building.”
A spokesperson for the county prosecutor’s office said the incident remains under investigation.
Police are still searching for people related to Moya-Cuevas to inform them of his death. Anyone who has information about the location of his next of kin is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at 609-989-6406.
Anyone with information about the origin of the fire can call that same number, or use the Trenton police confidential tip line at (609) 989-3663. Tipsters may also call the Trenton Crime Stoppers tipline at (609) 278-8477. Those wishing to text a tip can send a message labeled TCSTIPS to Trenton Crime Stoppers at 274637.