SEATTLE - An aunt of the only surviving child of a family found dead in a Wallingford house fire is remembering the family she lost.
On Sept. 2, crews responded to a large fire at a home in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood, near N 48th St. and Whitman Ave. N. Four people were found dead inside.
Earlier this week, the King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the man found in the burned home as Salvatore Ragusa. Officials said Ragusa died by suicide and the cause of death was acute asphyxia, inhalation of toxic products of combustion, and smoke inhalation.
Because the medical examiner said he died by suicide and the cause was smoke inhalation, it's presumed that Ragusa started the fire.
He was previously charged in 2019 for setting fire to Lana Stewart's apartment and threatening to kill himself. Stewart and Ragusa were a couple at one point.
A day after Ragusa was identified, the King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the rest of the three victims:
- 4-month-old Valentina Ragusa
- 7-year-old Sebastino Ragusa
- 40-year-old Stewart
Lana Stewart and her kids | Photo courtesy of Adrea Sloniker
Stewart and Ragusa are the parents of the children found dead inside. An 11-year-old girl was able to escape and call for help.
The infant died of smoke inhalation and the 7-year-old boy died from "asphyxia due to inhalation of toxic products of combustion," the ME said. It's unclear exactly what that refers to.
Stewart died from multiple sharp force injuries.
The manner of death was ruled as a homicide for all three. The family dog also died in the fire.
Stewart's sister told FOX 13 Ragusa suffered from a mental illness, which impacted his home life.
She remembered her sister as affectionate, talkative and nurturing. One of her favorite things in life was being a mother, her sister said.
Stewart's sister described her nephew "Sebby" as an active, carefree, rambunctious boy who loved to laugh. Little four-month-old Valentina had a smile that radiated happiness and always made her older sister laugh, her aunt recalled.
"We want to everybody know that even though this was an extremely tragic situation, LuLu will now be able to live her life to her fullest potential. Lana, Sebby and Valentina will be missed but forever in our hearts," Stewart's sister said in a statement to FOX 13.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the 11-year-old surviving daughter to help her rebuild her life.
Family said they plan to adopt the pre-teen.
Her aunt says she’s proud of LuLu. She says as she grew up she became aware of her family’s situation, often taking on a protective and nurturing role which is what she was doing Saturday morning. After escaping the flames and calling 911, her intentions were to go back in and save her brother and sister, her aunt said.
Anyone in crisis can dial 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also text SAVE to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line, a texting service for emotional crisis support. You can also visit afsp.org for additional resources.
If you are in a domestic violence situation, call the 24/7 national hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also visit thehotline.org.