Ohio mom and 4-year-old daughter killed in house fire set off by stalker neighbor who used to leave her notes
41-year-old Rebecca Pletnewski and four-year-old Olivia Schneider were identified as the victims in a fire police say was set off by Pletnewski's stalker neighbor
A woman from Mayfield Heights, Ohio, and her eight-year-old daughter were reportedly murdered by their neighbor who had been stalking the woman for the past few months. The victims, 41-year-old Rebecca Pletnewski and four-year-old Olivia Schneider, were identified in a fire that consumed a residence on Longwood Road, with police arresting 27-year-old Dominique C. Swopes in connection to their deaths.
According to Fox8, investigators determined that Pletnewski had been stabbed to death before the house was set on fire on Tuesday, November 20. Her daughter, however, was pulled out of the blaze alive from an upstairs bedroom by firefighters and rushed to the hospital for treatment, but would later pass away. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office later determined that the four-year-old had died from smoke inhalation.
Authorities brought in Swopes for questioning the same day but released him later that night. The Mayfield Heights Police Department announced in a press release that the 27-year-old was brought in once again on November 23 after investigators managed to collect several pieces of incriminating evidence against him.
Police Chief Fred Bittner revealed the stalking allegations against Swopes during a press conference, saying, "He became a subject of interest that day because what family and friends had told us, that Rebecca had warned them or told them of instances of potential stalking by the neighbor. He became our primary suspect at the time after talking to family."
Swopes reportedly used to talk to the mother on occasion and leave her notes, though she is said to have told off his other advances because she was in a committed relationship with another person. When he didn't stop, she told friends and family that she was becoming increasingly worried about his behavior.
Swopes has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and aggravated arson in the incident, with jail records confirming that he remains in police custody on an unspecified amount of bail.
Fox8 reported that Pletnewski was an intensive care nurse at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. She leaves behind another daughter, four-year-old Vivienne, who was not at home at the time of the fire. Both Pletnewski and Olivia were laid to rest on Monday, November 26. A candlelight vigil has been planned on the night of Thursday, November 29.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in the mother's name to honor her and her daughter's memory. A description read, "This account is designed to honor the memory of a wonderful person taken too soon, Rebecca Pletnewski. Tragically, one of the joys of Rebecca's life, her daughter, Olivia, was also lost. Rebecca leaves behind many grieving family and friends. She also leaves behind her 4-year-old daughter, Vivienne."
It has already raised close to $60,000 of a possible $80,000 goal at the time of writing.