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Report on Sullivan Family Fire Refuted by Carmel Police

CARMEL, N.Y. – Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson is criticizing published reports that listed possible causes of the Sullivan family fire that killed four members of the family May 1.

In a joint press release between Johnson and insurance investigator Woody Ledwith, Johnson said Ledwith made statements to a newspaper without having all the facts known to law enforcement agencies investigating the fire. Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire that claimed the lives of Larchmont Police Capt. Thomas Sullivan Sr., 48, Donna Sullivan, 47, Meaghan, 17 and Mairead, 15.

Johnson wrote that Ledwith spoke to reporters “regarding the hypothetical cause of the fire, which was based on subjective theories that were not necessarily based on facts that he was aware of.  He apologizes to the public and to the fire investigation team composed of law enforcement and fire personnel who are attempting to ascertain the facts of this incident.”

Apologies were also issued to relatives of the Sullivan family and to 20-year-old Tom Sullivan Jr., the sole survivor of the house fire.

The chief wrote that the recent collaboration between police agencies involved in the investigation and the insurance company was only to utilize the insurance company’s construction equipment and further analyze the house’s infrastructure, which was in some cases covered in debris by the aftermath of the fire.

In the same joint statement, Johnson wrote that some of Ledwith’s “statements were speculative in nature and in some cases taken out of context.”

“The Carmel Police Department, in conjunction with the detectives from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Putnam County Fire Investigation Team, are aware of facts that Mr. Ledwith is not aware of and has not been informed of,” states the release.

Although Johnson made clear the investigation was ongoing, he also wrote that results from the New York State lab were recently returned to the Carmel Police Department and those results are in the process of being analyzed.

“The purpose of our investigation is to obtain the facts before making them public, and not speculating in the media upon different scenarios of what may or might not have occurred," he said. "I believe the public has the right to know the facts, but only after a proper and thorough investigation has been completed.”

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