ROCHESTER, NY — Two teenagers have been charged with second-degree murder after police say they killed a man by dousing him in flammable liquid and then setting him on fire.
Rochester Police said on March 12 the victim, Steven Amenhauser, 53, was deliberately set on fire by Adriel Riley, Jr., 14, and Zayvion Perry, 16, according to a report by 13WHAM News.
According to Rochester Police Capt. Frank Umbrino, the victim and suspects knew each other.
Services for Steven Amenhauser will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Holy Apostles Church on Austin Street. https://t.co/WOCVgu0tb7— 13WHAM (@13WHAM) March 30, 2021
The captain said that about 12:30 p.m., Amenhauser walked to a corner store and then went back to his residence, but five minutes later came running out on fire.
Police determined the victim was sitting in a chair at his Lyell Avenue apartment when he was doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire by the teens.
In a separate report by 13WHAM, a Rochester Police investigator said both teens made oral admissions at the scene.
Court documents said Perry also made admissions in a written statement. An affidavit by Rochester Police Investigator Nicholas Mazzola stated Perry admitted that after the victim was covered in the liquid, “he did attempt to ignite the floor area,” and “the other participant in the crime then set fire to the victim.”
Records show the teen and his mother waived their Miranda rights to an attorney before the statement, according to 13WHAM.
Umbrino said it was not clear whether the suspects followed Amenhauser home, if they were already in his apartment when he returned or what led to them being inside the residence.
Police had been called to Lyell Avenue. Upon arrival, police saw citizens trying to put out the fire raging on Amenhauser, according to 13WHAM’s report.
Reporting from the scene of a horrific crime in #Rochester NY this week. A case involving 2 teen suspects accused of lighting a man on fire. The 14 & 16 year olds remain in custody & have been charged w/2nd degree murder after 53 year old Steven Amenhauser died. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/4vxi1pkNc6— Laura Ingle NOT Ingraham (@lauraingle) March 20, 2021
In footage recorded by 13WHAM outside the apartment, a jacket belonging to a mail carrier could be seen laying on the sidewalk. That jacket was used to try to smother the flames from Amenhauser’s clothing and body.
First responders transported him to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Amenhauser suffered second- and third-degree burns to 70 percent of his body and then died four days later, according to 13WHAM’s report.
Small memorial set up on Lyell Ave in memory of Mr. Steven Amenhauser pic.twitter.com/Y3qtDDNdJ9— Christian Garzone (@ccjgarzone) March 18, 2021
Funeral services were held March 31 for Amenhauser at Holy Apostles Church on Austin Street in Rochester. The service was presided by Father Anthony Mugavero, pastor of Holy Apostles. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano was also on hand for the service.
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At a news conference, Umbrino said Amenhauser was originally from Texas. He was predeceased by his wife, and then last October, his girlfriend passed away. The victim lived alone and had no surviving family members. His health had also been deteriorating.
Police say 53-year-old Steven Amenhauser had no living relatives, and was in declining health when he was intentionally set on fire in his Lyell Avenue apartment on Friday. Amenhauser succumbed to his injuries around 4 a.m. today. #ROC https://t.co/mbnEXQV46f— News 8 WROC (@News_8) March 16, 2021
Umbrino also said Amenhauser had been originally adopted and had no surviving family at the time of his death:
“The reason I’m telling you a little bit about him, because there’s nobody else to speak for him.”
Regarding the teens, Umbrino said:
“The kids, they hung around in the neighborhood, and if anybody knows that neighborhood, everybody kind of knows everybody. So, they certainly knew Steven, but there was no type of familial relationship.”
The teens were found near the scene, and Umbrino said they initially gave police fake names.
Perry was initially charged with first-degree assault and attempted arson, and Riley with second-degree arson and assault. Murder charges were filed after Amenhauser’s death.
Umbrino said he could not provide a motive:
“I don’t think anybody’s prepared to say why this happened.”
The mentally ill white man set afire Friday by two black teens died this morning. #ROC— Bob Lonsberry (@BobLonsberry) March 16, 2021
The Daily Wire reported Amenhauser as a “mentally ill white man” and that his alleged assailants were black. It also noted:
“Rochester journalist and radio host Bob Lonsberry made the races public and highlighted the double-standard in news coverage that has contributed to the deterioration of Rochester, a city engulfed in an at-times violent campaign against police officers over alleged racism.”
Citing law enforcement sources, Lonsberry reported that the teens instructed the victim during the incident to tell authorities that it was two white men who perpetrated the crime, according to The Daily Wire’s report.
Man set on fire death case: Adriel Riley Jr., 14 years old, pleads NOT GUILTY to 2 counts of Murder 2nd, 1 count of Arson 4th and 1 count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon 2nd. @news10nbc Steven Amenhauser died 4 days after police say he was set on fire inside his Lyell Ave apt.— Berkeley Brean (@whec_bbrean) April 12, 2021
The suspects have been in previous trouble and selected at least one other vulnerable victim, according to news reports.
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