Mo. woman found guilty of murder, arson in deaths of 2 firefighters

Thu Hong Nguyen lit a fire in a storeroom of her nail salon that destroyed a three-story building, killing firefighters John Mesh and Larry Leggio

By Matt Campbell
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thu Hong Nguyen was found guilty Monday of murder and arson in the deaths of Kansas City firefighters John Mesh and Larry Leggio.

The 46-year-old lit a fire among flammable liquids in a storeroom of her nail salon that destroyed a three-story building on Oct. 12, 2015.

Mesh and Leggio were among more than 100 firefighters battling the blaze in an alley when the east wall of the building collapsed, burying them in bricks. Two other firefighters were seriously injured.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel P. Fahnestock found Nguyen guilty of two counts of murder in the second degree, arson in the first degree and two counts of assault in the second degree.

“On behalf of the Leggio family and the Kansas City Fire Department, we just want to extend our thank you to the prosecution team, the judge — all the hours the ATF and the attorneys have put into this case,” said Missy Leggio, Larry Leggio’s widow.

“It answers a lot of questions that we’ve all had deep down in our heart and has lifted a little bit of weight off our chest to where we can finally continue on with our healing process,” Missy Leggio continued outside the courtroom. “We still have a little bit of a way to go.”

Missy Leggio sat in the front row of the gallery throughout the weeklong trial. Other Leggio and Mesh family members and fire department members also attended the trial.

“It’s been a long couple of years,” said Jim Mesh, John Mesh’s brother. “On behalf of the Mesh family we’d like to thank the prosecutor’s office and the ATF. We’re very happy with the verdict.”

Nguyen was also found guilty of another count of arson in the first degree for setting a separate fire in a nail salon she operated in Lee’s Summit in 2013.

Fahnestock found Nguyen not guilty of one count of causing a catastrophe, which is defined as causing substantial damage to five or more residential dwellings. There were 16 apartments on the second and third floors of the building, over a ground floor of businesses.

Fahnestock did not explain why she found Nguyen not guilty on that count.

Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 14. The arson and murder charges are punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

The prosecution painted a picture of Nguyen as someone who had a habit of burning her businesses for insurance money.

Nguyen listened to the trial with the help of interpreters who translated the proceedings into Vietnamese.

After the verdict, and before the family members spoke, she was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Copyright 2018 The Kansas City Star



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