A Jackson County judge found former nail salon owner Thu Hong Nguyen was found guilty Monday morning of second-degree murder and other felonies for the Oct. 12, 2015 fire that killed two Kansas City firefighters, Larry Leggio and John Mesh, and seriously injured two others. The verdict came after a weeklong bench trial at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City.
Judge Joel Fahnestock found Nguyen guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of first-degree arson. Fahnestock did not convict her on the charge of causing catastrophe. The second arson count came originated from a July 2013 fire nail salon on Lee's Summit, which Nguyen allegedly set and for which she later received an insurance payout.
Nguyen's salon in northeast Kansas City was part of a building that included other businesses and apartments, Nguyen had been the last person to leave the salon the night of the fire, according to court documents, and the ATF ruled the fire started in a supply room in Nguyen's salon, using an open flame.
Leggio and Mesh were fatally hurt, and firefighters Chris Anderson and Dan Werner seriously injured, when one of the building's walls collapsed into the alley from which they were battling the blaze.
Mesh lived in a Kansas City neighborhood just south of Independence, and he and his family were involved in the Independence community through church and school.
“Our community acknowledges, again, the incredible service of our firefighters,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the loss of these two firefighters and the injuries suffered by two other firefighters that night reminds us of dangerous their job is. We cannot forget their massive contributions to our community.”
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42 said in a statement via social media, “It is our hope that this decision will aid in the healing of the families of our brothers John Mesh and Larry Leggio. The hearts, thoughts and prayers of our membership are with the families today.”
Nguyen is to be sentenced on Sept. 14.