Police: Scotch Plains mom set fire that killed her, son

Authorities say a Union County mom purposely set a house fire that killed her and her young son. County prosecutors initially thought 32-year-old Katherine Halverson

Katherine Halverson, 32, and Jeremy McDonald Jr., 3. Photo Source: Facebook

Katherine Halverson, 32, and Jeremy McDonald Jr., 3. Photo Source: Facebook (12/20/12)

SCOTCH PLAINS - Authorities say a Union County mom purposely set a house fire that killed her and her young son.

County prosecutors initially thought 32-year-old Katherine Halverson and her 3-year-old son, Jeremy Scott McDonald, died after getting caught in the fire at their Scotch Plains home Tuesday night. But after autopsies were performed yesterday, the deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.

Authorities say they believe Halverson took her son to a small second-floor bedroom, where she started the fire. Both victims died of smoke inhalation.

Firefighters forced their way into the home after neighbors reported seeing smoke. The fire was quickly extinguished, and the damage was confined to the second story of the duplex.

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