this day in crime history: december 31, 1986


On this date in 1986, 97 people were killed when a fire was set at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fire was started around 3:30 PM in a ballroom beneath the hotel’s casino. The fire spread quickly and the hotel’s lack of a sprinkler system and locked fire exits (to prevent theft) aggravated the situation. Many of the hotel guests fled to the roof, where they were evacuated by police, National Guard, Navy, and Coast Guard helicopters.

The fire was started by three hotel employees, Héctor Escudero Aponte, José Rivera López, and Arnaldo Jiménez Rivera. The men were angry with hotel management for rejecting a proposal by their labor union, Teamsters Local 901. All three were convicted of murder and given prison sentences. Jimenez was released in 2001, Lopez in 2002. Aponte remains in prison.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Dupont Plaza Hotel arson

Albany Times Union“San Juan Hotel fire Dupont employees get prison terms”

Rescue 911 Video 1, Video 2

7 thoughts on “this day in crime history: december 31, 1986

  1. Ninety-seven people died and they get out on parole. Another reason I will never return to live there. My cousin was a part-time worker there while attending college in Bayamon. He was off that day, because he had volunteered to work on the 1st.

    Those murderers got off easy.

    On a lighter note, I hope the new year is much better than the last one 😀


    • Actually, the judge threw the book at all three of them. They were all due to spend the rest of their lives locked up. The two who got released early have their sentences reduced on appeal. I believe it was a federal court that delivered that gross injustice.

      And thanks, I’m hoping for a better year too. I hope your 2014 rocks. 😀


  2. John D.:
    Now, how did I KNOW that labor unions were behind this…very tragic.

    Thanks for another great year in crime history (and ALL the BABES)…lol.

    Have yourselves a Happy New Year and always…roll SAFE out there.
    See ‘ya NEXT year.


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