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Mother, 3-year-old son die in murder-suicide fire

December 19, 2012 8:12:01 PM PST
Authorities say a northern New Jersey mom purposely set a house fire that killed her and her young son.

Union County prosecutors initially thought 32-year-old Katherine Halverson and her 3-year-old son, Jeremy Scott McDonald, died after getting caught in the fire at their Scotch Plains home Tuesday night. But after autopsies were performed Wednesday, the deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.

Authorities say that they believe Halverson took her son to a small second-floor bedroom, where she started the fire. Both victims died of smoke inhalation, but it's not clear why Halverson killed herself and her son.

Firefighters forced their way into the home after neighbors reported seeing smoke. The fire was quickly extinguished, and the damage was confined to the second story of the duplex.

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