SPARTA, Mich. (WOOD) - A man whose fiancee died in an arson-turned-murder told 24 Hour News 8 he tried to do everything he could to save her life.
Steven Rish's fiancee Kori VanHulle, 24, died early Monday morning after the Sparta house in which they were living caught fire.
Police said that another resident of the hosue, 62-year-old Michael Piranian, set the fire and then assaulted one of the house's residents.
Rish said he and VanHulle were homeless and needed help. He said the owner of that home took them in, much like he did for Piranian when he came to the area three months ago.
Rish said he and VanHulle were inseparable.
"She really brought love in my heart," said Rish.
He has her name tattooed on his wrist.
"We planned on getting married here in June or July," he said. "It all came to a tragic end before we could."
VanHulle was trapped in the basement of the Sparta house. Police said Piranian aimed to kill two of the others living in the home and himself. VanHulle, police said, was not one of his intended targets.
While some described Piranian as man growing more angry over time, Rish never would have imagined Pirnanian would set the house on fire.
"He even told me himself that he ain't got no problem with me or Kori," said Rish of Piranian. He said he wants to ask Piranian, "Why?"
Piranian remains in the Kent County Jail on charges of felony murder, assault with intent to murder, and arson. If convicted, he could spend life in prison.
Piranian set fire to a pile of boxes below the only staircase, police said. With the stairs and only reliable exit burning, Rish tried to help VanHulle out of a basement window, but couldn't.
"I grabbed her hand, and we were going toward the stairs and I told her we had to go up them, even though they were on fire," recalled Rish. "When we started going up towards the stairs, her hand slipped out of mine like she tripped over something."
Rish looked for her, but the smoke eventually drove him out of the house. He hoped that she had gotten out without him realizing it.
"When I was outside, I asked where she was and they told me that she didn't come out," said Rish. "I really felt like I let her down. I wish I could've went back in."
Rish's knuckles are cut and bruised from punching out the window in the effort to save VanHulle.
"Her smile, and saying 'Good morning, beautiful' and giving me the first kiss of the day," said Rish. "She was the joy of my life and that's all been taken away."
The third suspect may be living in a Kent County apartment complex.
Joshua Hoppe, 30, from Zeeland was a teacher with Hamilton Community Schools.
The pastor of a Grand Rapids church is denying allegations that police are looking into his church's finances.