Arson Attack Remains Unsolved after 11 Years

Thursday, February 19th 2009, 11:41 am
By: News 9

By Doug Warner, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mother's Day 1998 was more than just a house fire on Oklahoma City's south side. It was murder.

Arson investigators say a young mother and her two children were killed after someone set their house on fire. And the person or persons responsible have yet to be charged.

The family of the victims is not letting this decade-long injustice stop their fight for the truth. Investigators are unable to just lay all their evidence on the table, and family members are unable to point their fingers wherever they want. That's because this cold case is still open and active, and one family member has fought nearly 11 long years to keep it that way.

Linda Poindexter's home is a walking testament to her family with wall-to-wall memories of shared love and widespread heartbreak.

In the early morning hours of May 10, 1998 firefighters arrived on S Santa Fe to find a house fully engulfed. They also found Poindexter's daughter, 28-year-old Teresa Burleson, and Linda's grandchildren, 9-year-old Chelsi and 7-year-old Schyler, dead inside.

"It's the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning, and it's the last thing on your mind at night; it's just always there," Poindexter said.

Much like the photos, a nearly 11-year-old phone bill serves as a permanent reminder of the last time she talked to her daughter; May 9, 7:25 p.m.

"She was going to get the kids and come to my house," Poindexter said. "That was the last time I talked to her."

Instead, the next morning, Mother's Day morning, Poindexter's phone rang at 8:23. It was a phone call from the scene of the fire. Arson investigators would later rule the fire "intentionally set."

"A selfish, sinful act that didn't have to happen," Poindexter said. "Who in their right mind could do anything like that?"

To anyone driving by on S Santa Fe the scene of the fire looks like any old, empty lot. To Poindexter, it's 10 years of agony, not knowing who set the house of fire and murdered her daughter and two grandchildren.

"I just can't do down that, can't go down that street," she said.

Poindexter admits she can't even drive to Oklahoma City from her Elk City home without getting physically ill. But it hasn't stopped her from calling Oklahoma City fire investigators as often as possible.

"It will come to light who did this and they will pay," she said. "We will have our justice."

She says Teresa was just days away from a divorce being finalized and she was planning on moving out of that house soon, anxious for a fresh start.

Poindexter is still offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible.

So if you know anything about this fire, you are urged to call the Oklahoma City Fire Department at 297-3321. Or to remain anonymous, you can call 23-ARSON.