Julio González (arsonist)

Julio González (born October 10, 1954) is a Cuban-born warehouse worker and arsonist responsible for the Happy Land Fire that killed 87 people in the Bronx, New York City, on March 25, 1990. It is one of the largest mass murders in United States history.


González entered the U.S. from Cuba in the 1980 Mariel boatlift, where he had been imprisoned for military desertion. Ten years later, he lost his job packing boxes at a Queens lamp factory, and his girlfriend of seven years, Lydia Feliciano, had broken up with him.

The incident

González went to see his ex-girlfriend at Happy Land on the night of the fire, but Feliciano rebuffed his advances. González was ejected by the bouncer after he began to fight with Feliciano. He was heard to scream drunken threats, and later returned to the club with a plastic container of gasoline, which he poured on the only staircase into the club. Most patrons were trampled or asphyxiated in the ensuing blaze, though some, including Feliciano, were able to escape.

González was convicted in August 1991 and was sentenced to 174 twenty-five-year sentences (a total of 4,350 years), the longest sentence ever handed down in New York. He is eligible for parole in 2015, and is currently incarcerated at Clinton Correctional Facility.


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