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19-year-old arrested in death of Phoenix girl

PHOENIX — A 19-year-old man was taken into custody in connection with a suspicious house fire and the death of a 13-year-old girl who was found burned in the home, police said Saturday.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in a statement that Tashawn Treyvon Cheatham was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, arson and theft.

Authorities have deemed the fire Thursday at Briana Naylor’s home suspicious. Firefighters found the girl with burns on her arms and legs in a bedroom of the home hours after her mother had reported her as a runaway, authorities said.

The girl was later pronounced dead at a hospital. She was the only person in the home at the time.

“Anytime you have a 13-year-old who dies in a home because of fire, that’s a question we always would ask, ‘Is it suspicious?'” Thompson told The Associated Press on Friday. “A normal, otherwise healthy girl that dies, we would call that suspicious.”

Police said Cheatham, a family friend, is also accused of setting the fire and stealing the family’s dog and selling it.

Police had been called to the home around 1 a.m. Thursday by Naylor’s mother, who told them her daughter ran away. The two had been arguing, but the girl returned home while officers were on scene and they saw no need for further action, Thompson had said.

An after-hours call to Phoenix police was not immediately answered Saturday. It was unclear whether Cheatham had retained a lawyer.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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