Authorities are investigating a house fire that claimed the lives of a 32-year-old mother and her 3-year-old son in Scotch Plains, N.J., as a murder-suicide.
Firefighters had to force their way into the home on Church Avenue after neighbors reported smoke coming from the second floor on Tuesday night.
Police say the fire was extinguished within five minutes and the damage was confined to the second story of the duplex. It appears the mother, Katherine Halverson, confined herself and son Jeremy McDonald Jr. inside a small bedroom and set fire to the room, authorities said.
The mother and son were pronounced dead at a hospital. An autopsy has determined the two died due to inhalation of combustible materials.
Police said the victims lived with another family member who was not injured.
The family's dog also died.
The Union County Prosecutor's Office is continuing to investigate.