Myrtle Beach mom found guilty of arson for insurance money; 12-year-old son killed in fire

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — A South Carolina mother has been found guilty of conspiring to burn down a trailer home for insurance money. The fire killed the woman’s 12-year-old son, who was inside taking shelter from a storm.

Marissa Cohen was found guilty of arson, unlawful neglect of a child and conspiracy. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, according to our news partner WPDE.

The body of 12-year-old Dave Sycience Coombs was found in the trailer after a fire was reported there on March 29, 2014, investigators said. He had died of smoke inhalation.

Coombs was leaving a nearby birthday party when it started to rain and he took shelter in the trailer. Officials said it appears the boy was asleep when the fire started and then, tried to escape, but the smoke was too much.

Investigators said Cohen bought renter’s insurance for the trailer a month before the fire and then moved her items into storage, telling friends the trailer had electrical problems.

A tipster reported that she bought kerosene the morning of the fire and firefighters discovered four different areas in the trailer where accelerant had been poured on the floor, according to WPDE.

In addition, a first responding officer and other witnesses testified during the trial Cohen showed no emotion at the scene after learning her son was killed in the fire.

Randy Collins told police Cohen offered him $5,000 of the $25,000 she would receive from the insurance policy if he set the trailer on fire. Collins said he told his nephew James Miller, who has since died, about the situation and both were at the trailer when Miller set it on fire.

Devon Coombs, the victim’s older brother, shot and killed Miller in April 2015. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

In 2018, Collins was sentenced to serve the minimum 30 years on the arson charge.

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