Valerie Moore, 47, was charged with 12 counts of first-degree murder Thursday in connection with the Halloween night blaze at Reno’s Mizpah Hotel, reports the city’s Gazette-Journal. Six of the victims still have not been identified. Moore, jailed on a no-bail warrant, is scheduled to make her first court appearance Monday. Prosecutors say they may seek the death penalty.
Moore is accused of igniting a mattress outside another Mizpah resident’s door at about 10 p.m. Oct. 31, sparking a blaze that quickly spread. She had recently quit her job as a cook at a casino and had been paroled last year for a 1987 second-degree murder conviction. Moore told police that the person who accused her of setting the fire, Maxie Birch, had been physically aggressive toward her that night by forcing her from his room, kicking and beating her. She told police she returned to her room after Birch’s alleged assault and did not leave until the fire forced her out.