fb-pixel Skip to main content

Lowell man guilty of killing 8 in fire

Victor Rosario was led into Lowell Court after his arrest.The Boston Globe/Globe Staff/File

This story is from The Boston Globe's archives. It originally ran on Tuesday, March 29, 1983.

A 25-year-old Lowell man was convicted yesterday of killing three adults and five children in a 1982 fire at a Lowell tenement that had been set after a dispute over drugs. He was also convicted of arson.

The Middlesex Superior Court jury of six women and six men had deliberated for eight hours last Friday and yesterday before returning their verdicts of murder in the second degree and of arson against Victor Rosario.

Judge Herbert Travers postponed sentencing until Monday at 10 a.m. at the request of Rosario's court-appointed attorney, John Campbell.


Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, with eligibility for parole after 15 years. That term may be shortened at the discretion of the Correction Department for good behavior, according to Assistant Dist. Atty. Thomas Brennan.

Brennan said he would ask for two consecutive life terms on the murders, which, if imposed by Travers, would mean that Rosario would have to serve about 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.

Rosario had been accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail into the three- story tenement at 32 Decatur st. shortly before 1 a.m. on March 5, 1982. The fire, which had been set to even a score in a drug deal gone bad, according to testimony in the six-day trial, destroyed the building.

According to testimony, Rosario and two brothers, Felix and Edgardo Garcia, had made the Molotov cocktails in the basement of their apartment building at 38 Branch st., Lowell, had gone out to drink in a bar and had hid the gasoline-filled beer bottles in a trash can, and had then gone to Decatur street and tossed them into the first floor through the kitchen window and the hall door glass.


The Garcias had also been charged with the arson and murders, but the charges were dropped when Rosario refused to testify.

Brennan, after pronouncing himself satisfied with the verdict, yesterday declined to say whether he would proceed against the Garcias, saying that without Rosario's testimony, there was at this time no evidence to convict them.

Rosario had implicated them in a confession he made to Lowell arson investigators two days after the fire, but that is inadmissible against the Garcias because it is hearsay, Brennan said.

Edgardo Garcia has returned to Puerto Rico, Brennan said, and Felix Garcia now lives in West Chester, Penn.

Rosario showed no emotion yesterday as the jury foreman, Kenneth A.

Rosenberg, read the nine verdicts, nor did his relatives or the relatives of some of the victims.

Killed in the fire were Ephraim Cortes, the intended victim; his wife Nancy Velasquez; their children Ephraim Cortes Jr. and Jose Luis Cortes; Adelaida Ferrer; and her three children, Augustine Colon, Xavier Colon and Joel Colon.