2003-10-30 / Front Page

Reward Offered In Arson Death Of Two Canarsie Children

By Charles Rogers
Reward Offered In Arson Death Of Two Canarsie Children By Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

In this photo issued with “Wanted” poster, victims Justina Mason, 9, is shown holding her little step brother, Justin Brathwaite.In this photo issued with “Wanted” poster, victims Justina Mason, 9, is shown holding her little step brother, Justin Brathwaite.

A reward of $2,000 has been posted by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for the arson fire that killed two Canarsie children on October 12.

Justina Mason, 9, and her step brother, Justin Brathwaite, 17 months, were killed when someone poured gasoline on a rug, trailing it into a hallway and lighting it outside their bedroom in their home on East 93rd Street near Avenue K. The children had been left home alone when their mother, Kim Brathwaite, 35, had to go to work at a McDonald’s Restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn and could not find a baby sitter. After she returned home and found that her children had been killed in the fire, Brathwaite was arrested on child endangerment charges for leaving them alone. She is currently free on $35,000 bail.

Although recent newspaper reports indicate that Justina’s father, Anthony Mason, 32, a recent parolee, is being viewed as a possible suspect in the arson, local investigators are saying that is not the case.

"Of course we’re questioning Mason," said Sergeant Pat Leahy of the 69th Precinct Detective Squad, "but no more than anyone else. At this point, we don’t want to speculate specifically on any one person so we can keep our minds and options open on possible suspects."

Originally, it was thought that Justina might have started the fire while playing with matches, but fire marshals and other investigators discovered the traces of gasoline that led to the bedroom door and could not find a container for the flammable liquid. Also, there were no signs of a forced entry and the door to the basement apartment was locked.

Crime Stoppers says anyone with pertinent information should call them at 1-800-577-TIPS. Not only will all calls be kept confidential, but the reward will be paid by code number if the caller refers to Crime Stoppers Poster Number BK-614.

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