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Ohio man accused in deadly fire blames wife

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man accused his wife of setting a fire that killed their four children, even though investigators said the woman was stabbed to death before the blaze started, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Authorities have said Michel Veillette, 34, confessed to killing his wife on Jan. 11, using gasoline to set fire to their home in suburban Mason, about 20 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The children died of smoke inhalation.

But Veillette, who is jailed without bond, said police badgered him while he was under the influence of painkillers in a hospital where he was being treated for injuries.

"They say I was very responsive and all, but I don't remember half of what I told them," Veillette told The Cincinnati Enquirer for a story posted Wednesday on the newspaper's site.

Veillette said he and his wife, Nadya Ferrari-Veillette, 33, had argued over money and his girlfriend. After he told his wife he was leaving, she followed him to their bedroom and attacked him with a frying pan and knife, he said, and he then stabbed her.

"She went after me. It was her or me. I don't know how many times I stabbed her. She wouldn't quit," Veillette said.

But he claimed that smoke already was coming into the room as the couple struggled. He said he saw a gas can at the bedroom door.

Veillette said that he tried to go after the children, but that the smoke and fire were too intense, and he crashed through the bedroom window, falling two stories to their yard.

‘I failed as a father’
"I failed as a father. I could not protect my kids. I forgive my wife for the fire. I know she did not intend to hurt the kids," Veillette said.

Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said authorities still are investigating and wouldn't say when she expects to take the case before a grand jury, which will decide what charges Veillette should face.

He was arrested on charges of aggravated murder, murder and aggravated arson. Investigators have said Veillette's wife was dead when the fire started.

"It's the kind of thing that I expect from a defendant," Hutzel said of Veillette's comments. "We will wait and present our evidence in a court of law, and I would suggest that he did so as well."

A man who answered the phone Wednesday at Nadya Ferrari-Veillette's family home in Lavel, Quebec, declined to comment, referring questions to a public relations firm. A message was left requesting comment.

Detective Jerome Deidesheimer testified at a hearing last week that Veillette had detailed going to the garage for a gas can after stabbing his wife, then returning upstairs to set the fire.

Veillette's attorney has indicated he would challenge statements Veillette reportedly made while confined in a hospital bed.

Services are planned this week in Canada for Nadya Ferrari-Veillette and the children: Marguerite, 8; Vincent, 4; and 2-year-old twins Mia and Jacob. Authorities initially reported the twins' ages as 3.