Real Names: Donna Deborah Baldeo, Jailall Lewis Baldeo, Bunnie Sue Terry
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Houston, Texas
Date: February 1, 2002
Details: Forty-five-year-old Donna Baldeo worked at Wells Fargo Bank for ten years. She was a manager at a drive-through branch located outside of Houston. On December 22, 2001, she was the first to arrive at work when she found an odd piece of paper in front of the bank's entrance. Encased in a protective plastic sheath was a note demanding all of the money from the bank along with threats of violent retaliation if she went to the police. However, five minutes later, when another employee arrived, Donna, hiding in her car, told the employee to follow her to a convenience store. The two then contacted their supervisor who called the police; Donna had done exactly what the note said not to do.
Detectives found no fingerprints on the note and no clues to who its author might be. No suspects were ever identified. Although no evidence was found to support that the letter was specifically for Donna, she was the one that found it and went against its demands. Nobody would expect what would happen just five weeks later, on February 1, 2002.
At 3:30AM, Donna and her twenty-two-year-old son, Jailall Lewis, and eight-year-old daughter, Bunnie Sue Terry, were asleep in their apartment in the Chateau Djion Apartment Complex when their neighbor, Curtis Ford, awoke to strange sounds outside of his apartment and along the stairwell. It first sounded as if someone was running up the stairs, then later running back down them. When he looked up he saw a wall of fire outside of his balcony window. Curtis's apartment was on the first floor while the Baldeos were on the second floor.
Authorities believe that Bunnie was awoken by a mysterious knock at the door. She opened the door, unaware of the fire outside. Jailall and Donna then ran into the fire in a desperate attempt to save Bunnie. Curtis saw Jailall's body and grabbed him by the ankle, dragging him out of the fire. Donna tried to call for her daughter but could not find her; she was later pulled out of the flames. Emergency workers and the police soon arrived and took Jailall and Donna to the hospital; Curtis was uninjured.
Tragically, Bunnie Terry was found dead in the stairwell, while her brother and mother were rushed to the hospital with burns over almost their entire body. Jailall died at the hospital at around 10:30AM, and his mother Donna died just a half hour later. The whole family was now gone. Authorities ruled the fire as an arson, and believed that whoever was responsible for the fire may have been the author of the note left at Donna's bank weeks earlier. Another possibility soon emerged, however. Within the past three years, fifteen fires have broken out at the apartment complex. To this day, the deaths of Donna Baldeo, Jailall Lewis, and Bunnie Sue Terry remain a mystery.
Suspects: Authorities believe that the writer of the note left at the Wells Fargo bank may have killed Donna for not complying with their demands.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the August 20, 2002 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Solved. In July of 2002, shortly after filming the story, the arsonists were identified as fourteen-year-old Timothy Perkins and a thirteen-year-old accomplice. One of the boys' grandmother told police that she believed they were involved in the arson. Two of their friends also gave police important information about the suspects. According to them, one of the suspects had a history of starting fires.
After being confronted about inconsistencies in his story, Perkins confessed that he and his accomplice were responsible. He claimed that they sneaked out of their homes in the middle of the night, got drunk, and then set the apartment stairwell on fire with gasoline. He claimed that they set the fire to "scare somebody." His accomplice also admitted to being involved. Perkins was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to twelve years in prison in August of 2004. The accomplice was sentenced to juvenile detention until the age of eighteen. Both have since been released. Authorities do not believe that they are connected to the note demanding money.
- The Baldeos at Unsolved Archive
- Area mourns loss of family killed in blaze
- Ninth graders arrested in arson
- Juveniles charged in fire that killed three family members
- Confession in deadly arson coerced, teen says
- Clear Lake teen given 12 years for deadly fire
- Bunnie Sue Terry at Find a Grave
- Donna Baldeo at Find a Grave
- Jailall Lewis at Find a Grave