by Alan Feuer and Nate Schweber
The New York Times
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Wendy Burlingame's father, Charles, piloted American Airlines Flight 77 on Sept. 11, 2001, before hijackers flew it into the Pentagon.
(Dec. 6) - Five years after her father’s plane crashed into the Pentagon in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a woman was found dead yesterday in a fire at the Galaxy Towers apartment complex in Guttenberg, N.J.
The woman, Wendy Burlingame, 32, was discovered by firefighters in a short hallway between the kitchen and the bedroom of her 10th-floor apartment where the four-alarm fire began, said Edward DeFazio, the Hudson County prosecutor. Mr. DeFazio said the fire, which law enforcement officials are calling suspicious, began shortly after midnight in the apartment Ms. Burlingame shared with her companion and was still under investigation, as was the cause of Ms. Burlingame’s death. No one else was injured in the fire, Mr. DeFazio said.
Ms. Burlingame was the daughter of Charles F. Burlingame III, a 25-year Navy veteran who was the captain of American Airlines Flight 77, which slammed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11., 2001, killing 189 people.
Mr. DeFazio said her companion of three years was among several people being interviewed in connection with her death. He would not identify the companion, but tenants in the complex identified him as Kevin Roderick.
Sebastian Rojas, 27, lives downstairs from Mr. Roderick. He said that while he did not know Mr. Roderick and Ms. Burlingame well, they were “real late-night people” whose footsteps, and two dogs, he heard constantly above his head.
The two dogs were also found dead in the home, Mr. DeFazio said.
Shortly before the fire erupted, Mr. Rojas said, there were “louder noises than usual” coming from the apartment upstairs, “like somebody running around up there, like somebody doing something up there in a rush.”
Then he said he heard a thud — “like somebody dropped something”— and three or four minutes later the building’s fire alarm sounded. Mr. Rojas said that within minutes his apartment filled with smoke. He then safely left the building.
Lucy Gell, who works at the building’s front desk, said that Ms. Burlingame was a kind, generous woman with “model good looks.” She added that Ms. Burlingame had brought her down a plate of turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, saying that Mr. Roderick was out.
Debra A. Burlingame, Ms. Burlingame’s aunt, was reached at home last night before she even knew of her niece’s death. She burst into tears on the phone and would not comment further. Ms. Burlingame’s mother, Nancy Perfect, was also reached at home last night. She, too, declined to discuss her daughter’s death.