Southington police have arrested 18-year-old Eric Morelli who is being accused of causing the fire that killed a teenager.
The medical examiner's office confirmed that 19-year-old Kristen Milano died of smoke inhalation during a fire at 32A Darling St. on the second floor of the Summer Brook Apartments at about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. The medical examiner ruled her death as a homicide.
Three people were home when the fire broke out. Milano's aunt and brother made it out safely. Milano's mother owns the home, but was at her boyfriend's house at the time of the fire.
Morelli, of 244 Westwood Road, Southington was arrested Tuesday and charged with first degree manslaughter and three counts of first degree reckless endangerment. He was being held on a $150,000 bond.
"He was just trying to chill with her younger brother and he thought it was a good idea to throw a firework up there, trying to be funny," said Kyle Cima-Yannel, a friend of Kristen's.
Individuals closest with Kristen's younger brother said Morelli drove his moped to the Summer Brook Apartments very early Sunday morning and tossed a sparkler into Jay Milano's second floor bedroom to get his attention.
Instead, that sparkler caused the fire that took Kristen's life, as she was sleeping in the bedroom next door.
"It's not funny, not funny. Opens (your) eyes about the dumb things people do," said Joe G, another friend of Kristen's.
Nobody had realized Kristen had come home from a party in New Britain until it was too late. Her brother and aunt made it out of the fire safely.
"Jay said he got to the top of the stairs and felt like he was going to melt. Cop got him and pulled him out," said Cima-Yannel.
Friends of Morelli's said his reckless life finally caught up with him.
"I don't think he ever thinks about his actions before he does it," said Morelli's neighbor Brian Goralnik. "He just goes off and does what he wants to do at the time."
For days Southington police were camped out at Morelli's home, and detectives said when he was finally arrested on Tuesday he went peacefully.
"At some point, you would think that maybe he'd find the right light, the right way and he just couldn't find that path," Goralnik said, adding that he has been Morelli's neighbor since the two were children.
He said Morelli has always been in and out of trouble, but never did he think a life would be lost because of Morelli's immaturity.
"It's sad. Thoughts and prayers go out to that family. But he just doesn't have any sense of right and wrong," Goralnik added.
Morelli's attorney Raymond Hassett released this statement: "My client, Eric Morelli, and his family are extremely sorry over what has happened. This is particularly difficult as Eric was a long-time friend of Kristen. Eric never intended to harm anyone and he is very remorseful about this tragedy. He has been fully cooperative with law enforcement and will be responding to the charges in court."
Friends of the Southington teenager who was killed in a fire over the weekend described her as being a "free spirit."
Kristen's calling hours will be held on Thursday, June 26 at DellaVecchia Funeral Homes in Southington from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Her funeral will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Faith Living Church on Grove Street in Plantsville.
Southington Community Services are helping the family with shelter, clothes and food. The United Way is also setting up an account where people can make donations, however those details are being sorted out right now.
There is a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for burial costs. To donate, click here.
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