Unsolved Murder of Seven Year Old Joel Urhie, Arson, 2018

victim and his mother

Joel Urhie, seven and his mother

I have recently started featuring unsolved arson murders. There is the unsolved murder of Andrea Daly in 2005 and the arson attack that claimed the lives of little children from the Shakoor family in 2012.

Though they are rare in the grand scheme of things there are enough arson cases to make you wonder about the world we live in. Joel Urhie wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. He won’t grow up because some cowardly, useless, hideous moron killed him.

victim and his mother
Joel Urhie, seven and his mother

Brief Circumstances

We have to go to Deptford, South East London for this. Joel was upstairs in the bedroom he shared with his mother, Iroroefe. The date was 7th August 2018. The fire was started by material being pushed through the letter box and ignited in the early hours.

At one point the little lad told his mother he loved her and they would escape together. Iroroefe Urhie and her nineteen year old daughter managed to jump out of a first floor window. Though hurt they survived. I wonder if his mother’s plan was to go first with him to follow and she would ‘catch’ him. The problem was she suffered severe injuries. I don’t know that was the plan but it seems logical. Without his mother being able to ‘catch’ him maybe he hesitated.

Little Joel was found in the bedroom. He had died from the fire and smoke inhalation according to a BBC article.

The Investigation

Police looked at possible motives and one theory was that it was gang related. They have appealed for information stressing the innocent child aspect. They looked at CCTV images from the area and at one point circulated the image of a suspect. He was identified and eliminated from the enquiry.

In 2020 three men were arrested and interviewed,however, they were subsequently released.

It is felt that the target of the attack may well have been Joel’s 21 year old brother. He was recalled to prison at one point to continue a drug related sentence. The recall was not connected to the arson attack.

Det Ch Insp Wrigley, who has vowed to find the killer of this little boy, said:

‘There are people out there who know exactly what went on and who is responsible for Joel’s death. I need them to do the right thing and get in touch.’

My Take

Killers tend to select victims that are weaker or fewer in number than they are. With the exception of a few hard cases ( not that I respect them) the overwhelming characteristic of murderers is cowardly self interest. When you look at the like of anyone who would set on fire a house with sleeping people in it…You are looking at the dregs of the lowest of the low.

There seems to be a real issue in establishing motive in arson cases as well. What motive was there that makes sense of Joel’s death? If the target was someone else why not just deal with them away from a sleeping child? Well, because the offenders are as low in backbone as you can get. I’m answering my own question here.

In the old days criminals were no better than modern ones mostly. There was a certain no women, no kids code though. I believe an arson attack that killed a kid decades ago would have been solved by now or am I just not researching this properly? I was part of that world long ago. I met a lot of criminals and frankly they would have given these scum up or even dealt with them themselves.

Little Joel wanted to be a fire fighter. There are pictures of him dressed as one. It took a coward to make that impossible and lock him into a bitter irony forever.

If you know anything get in touch with the cops or Crimestoppers and prove me wrong about modern criminality. That detective is right, the killer(s) will be known and anyone who knows without saying is as bad as any of them.