Ferndale, House Fire, Jan 1965

January 22 1965 at 5.54 AM Ferndale Fire Department was called to 446 West Hazelhurst on a report of a house fire. Fire Fighters arrived to find a second floor fire with the stairway collapsed from the fire, The fire had trapped the following on the second Floor.
Catherine Belcher Age-33
Dawn Belcher Age-9
Melody Belcher Age-8
Mathew Belcher Age-6
Timothy Belcher Age-5
Jeffery Belchers Age-2
Daniel Belcher Age-2
Harry Belcher age 32 was pulled out a first floor window by Dennis Lukasik Age 24 of 401 Pearson Lukasik was taken to Beaumont Hospital for smoke inhalation and a cut hand.
Fire Chief William McMurray said it took fire fighters several minutes to reach the family by ladder. Harry was awaken by the smoke at 5 am , in this first floor bedroom, he called for help, Lukasik answered the call and found Harry attempting to get out a window. Lukasik broke out the window cutting his hands and pulled Harry out. In a calm voice Harry told Lukasik a" A ladder is in the back yard his family was still in the house", he than sat on the grass and watched. Lukasik kicked in the front door to be driven back by the fire Harry stated " you did not need to brake the door it was unlocked" . Lukasik and Harry were in the same ward in Beamont Lukasik attempted to speak with Harry about the funeral arrangements, Harry was flirting with the nurses which was more important to him . As fire fighters were investigating the cause of the fire , the investigation zeroed in on Harry , who failed a polygraph test, Investigators checking in Harry's back ground found he was charged with having sex with a baby sitter in 1960 and pleaded guilty. The investigators also found the telephone line in the family house was cut at the time of the fire. Harry slep by himself on the first floor and his wife and kids on the second floor. The wifes nightgown was soaked in gasoline, Harry stated his wife has set the fire, the cat had knocked over a gas can. Harry could not explain his bizarre behavior after the fire and to the questions he was being asked. Investigators found two days before the fire Joyce Ann Cross of Hazel Park who worked at Waterston Machinery Supply with Harry was having an affair and had given Harry a ultimatum me or the wife. A Ferndale Police Officer remembered seeing Joyce and Harry out on the town.
Harry was found guility of murder, he killed his famkly to be with the second woman. He was sentenced to life in prision. In 1997 still in prision and sick with multiple selerosis and bed ridden at the age of 66. Ferndale Police Lt James Gheldof was only nine at the time of fire but was now incharge of the case. Gheldof stated Harry killed his family and need to remain in prision. Police Chief Donald " Red"Grary in 1965 was the first to suspect Harry in 1965 and stated he needs to stay in prision. Sgt Jim Richard of the Ferndale fire department took a hose line to the rear of the house in 1965 to fight the fire. Fire Fighter Bruce McGlono placed a ladder to the second floor in 1965, with Captain Starteo went up the ladder followed by Fire Fighter McGlone with a hose to fight the fire. Fire Fighter Richard entered the front door and started up the stairway to crash through on the third steep. Chief McMurray advised by FF Wojcik on arrival there were kids trapped the Chief called for Station -2 and Mutual Aid . TheChief found Lukasik was taken to the hospital by police. Hazel Park FD and Suburban ambulance were also called to the fire. Engine -3 arrived with William Reed with SCBA entering the second floor by ladder. bodies were passed down my McGlone,Woycik, LaGault, Yodhes, McCellan and the Chief LeGault started mouth to mouth resuscitation on the first child down and placed him in the ambulance where he was assisted by Mrs Merwina Vollmer a neighbor at 474 Hazelcrest and a nurse. Harry was in his car when the kids were brought down, he jumped out and went berserk trying to run past the Fire Chief and punching him on the way, the Chief and Ferndale Police Officer Sgt Grenke restrained. The last chile was brought out by Doyne Eastenwood, Harry, his wife and 2 children were taken by Suburban Ambulance, Hazel Park FD Ambulance took 2. Inspector Galbraith found the clock in the wife's bedroom has stopped at 4:05 AM, Michigan State Police Fire Marshal was called to help in the investigation and all involved wanted to know how Harry could get Lukasik to here his call for help 4 blocks waay Detective Russ Rey,Dan Paterson reenacted Harrys calls for help and found he could not be heard outside of the home. Harry had confronted his wife and she refused to a divorce, he went into a rage . Catherine gathered the kids and went to the second floor Harry forced his way in the room and knocked his wife unconscious dumped gas on her went to the basement pulled the telephone wires and set the basement on fire He than ran down the alley knocked on Lukasik house and ran back to his house took off his shoes and went into his room to be rescued