La Porte woman's kindness got her killed in alleged arson, son says

Alex Bozarjian Image
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
La Porte woman's kindness got her killed in alleged arson, son says
Only Eyewitness News spoke with Connie Fortune's family and friends a day after the 72-year-old's home burned down. They said a woman whom she took in and supported allegedly set the fire.

LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- The La Porte Police Department charged a woman accused of lighting a house on fire, killing one person.

According to the police, the victim was 72-year-old Connie Fortune, and the suspect, 34-year-old Sarah Flores, was temporarily living with her. Police said Flores was technically Fortune's employee and would do different house chores to earn her keep.

However, Fortune's family and friends said tension built from the living arrangement, adding that their loved one wasn't happy with some of Flores' lifestyle choices and that she wanted her out.

On Monday, Fortune's house went up in flames, and police said a witness put Flores at the scene before the fire. Flores later confessed to lighting it, according to police.

On Tuesday, ABC13's camera captured Fortune's children reunited in front of their mother's incinerated home.

"It really hasn't hit me even now being here. Not really. It will later, I am sure," Tony Felscher, Fortune's son, said.

Many people knew Fortune, who ran the local food pantry for years. She and her late husband worked with Alcoholics Anonymous and the similar Al-Anon program.

"She was a very good person. Outside of my mom, (she was) one of the best women I have ever met in my life," Lorie Falkenroth, Fortune's friend, said.

Felscher said his mom always took in people who went through hard times, including those struggling with addiction and trying to stay clean. Fortune took Flores in about a year prior, Felscher added.

"My mom did a lot of things trying to help this person, even putting her through rehabs," Felscher said.

But the relationship became strained last year when Flores was charged with drug possession, with court documents identifying the controlled substance as methamphetamine.

Fortune no longer wanted her around, according to friends and family. Then, on Monday, Fortune's house went up in flames.

While police said Flores admitted to setting the fire, the suspect didn't give them a motive.

"To have anything like this happen to anyone is crazy. I have never seen something so devastating in my life," Falkenroth said.

Nearly all of the things Fortune collected over the years were scorched, which Felscher said makes it much more painful.

"All of the memories. My dad's ashes are still somewhere in the house," Felscher said, adding that he couldn't help but think she paid the ultimate price for supporting the wrong person. "I can't believe my mother's kindness was the thing that got her killed."

Falkenroth said she knew Flores and Fortune often opened up to her about their tumultuous relationship.

"It is heart-wrenching, but it is the lesson to be learned right now. Be careful who you trust," Falkenroth said.

Flores, facing arson and murder charges, is due back in court Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Fortune's son organized a GoFundMe account to raise money for cleanup and demolition efforts after the fire.

For updates on this story, follow Alex Bozarjian on Facebook, X and Instagram.