A memorial sprouted overnight at the Summer Brook Apartments and grew all day as friends of Kristen Milano stopped by to pay their respects. The 19-year-old died in a fire at apartment 32A on Sunday.
“A lot of us have grown up here. … We might not be blood, but we’re still all family and we want to be here to support Kristen,” said Samantha Rogers, a family friend.
A medical examiner said Milano died from smoke inhalation, but neighbors were shocked when the death was ruled a homicide.
“Murder, homicide. It’s weird that it’s the first murder of the year in Southington, so, especially on D street. … It’s never happened here before as far as i know, so it’s scary and weird,” said Rebecca Hayes, a neighbor.
A captain with the Southington Fire Department says the state fire marshal is handing the investigation, which is now considered a criminal case.
“It’s just too devastating, really shocking. I still just don’t believe it,” Rogers said.
Fire investigators haven’t released an official cause of the fire, but rumors have been swriling that the apartment ignited when a lit firecracker was thrown inside. There’s also talk that a young man turned himself in to police, but investigators wouldn’t comment on that nor say if anyone was being questioned.
Milano’s friends are hoping for answers soon.
In the meantime, they’re grieving the loss of a girl they say had a “free spirit with a wild heart.”
“She was a beautiful girl, full of life. Never did anything once to try to hurt someone, and she is just a very good girl,” said Rogers.
Hayes added, “She was a cool girl and very pretty and we’re all gonna miss her.”
According to Facebook, a fundraiser for the Milano family will be held this Friday at Zen Bar in Plainville at 7 p.m.