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Hamilton police charge teacher with first-degree murder in house fire death of Dundas couple

Carla and Alan Rutherford, the victims of a deadly fire in Dundas, which is now being investigated as a homicide.
Carla and Alan Rutherford, the victims of a deadly fire in Dundas, which is now being investigated as a homicide. Hamilton Police Service

Hamilton police have charged Richard Taylor with two counts of first-degree murder more than six months after his parents died in a house fire in Dundas.

Carla and Alan Rutherford were killed in what police allege was an intentionally set fire in their bedroom last July.

READ MORE: Deadly Dundas fire is now a homicide investigation: Hamilton police

Police say the fire was deliberately set in the bedroom of their Greening Court home on the morning of July 9, 2018, while the couple, who are in their 60s, was asleep.

Police allege that Taylor, 42, of Oakville, acted alone and that the murder was financially motivated.

Investigators had previously said one of the couple’s four children, all of whom are from previous relationships, was a suspect in the murder investigation.

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Taylor was arrested on Jan. 23 on Barton Street in Hamilton, near his place of work. According to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), Taylor worked as a teacher at Hess Street Elementary School. Officials said the investigation didn’t involve the school’s students.

“The individual has been reassigned to home effective immediately. Hess Street School staff and [HWDSB] have fully co-operated with the police during their investigation, and we will continue to do so,” a letter sent home to parents on Thursday said.

“We want you to know that we take the safety and well-being of every student very seriously. Hess Street School continues to be a safe place for your child to learn and grow.”

Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk said the results of a report from Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal, including details about how the fire was set, are currently not being disclosed and are part of the evidence in the case.

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WATCH: Hamilton police appeal for information in Ancaster homicide (Sept. 14)

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Hamilton police appeal for information in Ancaster homicide – Sep 14, 2018

He added that the relationship between Taylor and his mother did not appear to be contentious.

“They got along,” said Bereziuk, adding that the Dundas residence was Taylor’s childhood home. “There was no indication of any strife early on.”

The family is asking for privacy as they grapple with the tragedy.

Taylor is due to appear at the John Sopinka Courthouse on Thursday afternoon.

— With files from Nick Westoll

This letter was sent home with Hess Street School students on Thursday. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

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