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

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

  1. It looks like these guys got off easy; especially compared to the “gentleman” from yesterday. Even though they didn’t plan on killing anybody, people who set fires should figure there is always a chance of things getting out of control.


  2. John D.:
    I agree w/ Richard…they got off WAY too easy.

    Didn’t they think about innocent people?
    (obviously NOT as all criminals tend to NOT do).
    Cripes, two of them are back out already…not good.
    I miss the days of REAL justice.

    Very good story.

    Have a Happy & Safe New Year out there.


  3. Rather the men thought of “things getting out of control” or not, responding with angry and selfish child like behavior is not acceptable in any situation.

    I find this engaging and thoughtful…
    Is it the lack of punishment or incarceration that is wrong? Or is it, after several bombings, the Twin Towers, numerous pirates at sea and the lack of “knowing the difference between right and wrong” and/or the lack of the severity of the punishment? If Puerto Rico prisons are anything like Mexican prison’s or worst, the prison sentence it’s self could be brutal. Prison sentences taints you for life and seldom pardoned.


    • To my way of thinking, they showed a depraved indifference to human life. They could claim the deaths were unintentional, but I have a tough time believing that, at the very least, they really didn’t care.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s