PD: Mother sets fire to Tempe home with kids inside

Posted at 1:31 PM, Apr 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 16:33:32-04

A mother is suspected of setting fire to her children's Tempe home after losing them in a custody battle.

Tempe Police report that on April 2, near Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive, a neighbor alerted a family that their home was on fire. 

Everyone got out safely, but the fire did cost an estimated $100,000 in damage and flames got within 30 feet of the sleeping children inside. Fire investigators found a lighter and the smell of gasoline near a shed attached to the house. 

As police investigated, they discovered that two of the children in the home were the subjects of a child custody dispute involving 35-year-old Ruth Lucero Sosa. 

Police say Sosa was extremely upset at losing her children and threatened to set fire to the home. She reportedly told family members that didn't care if her children were inside, that "whoever would fall, would fall."

She also reportedly told family members that, "if she can’t have her kids, then nobody can have her kids."

Police say a neighbor’s surveillance video showed a beige Nissan Murano driving in the area right before the shed exploded into flames. Sosa reportedly drives a Murano.

That same car, police say, was also seen on the night before near another arson fire near 23rd Street and McDowell Road where the biological father lives with a third child.

Family members also reportedly told police that Sosa demanded $3,500 in cash be paid to her, or she would burn their homes.

Police located and arrested Sosa on April 4, when she returned to biological father's home. Police say they found a gas can, lighter and a meth pipe in her vehicle.

Sosa, who was on probation for aggravated assault, has been charged with arson, extortion and multiple counts of endangerment.