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Massachusetts man sentenced to prison after setting wife on fire, killing her



LOWELL – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Lowell Police Superintendent Greg Hudon have announced that Santos Lebron De Los Santos, 44, of Lowell, has been found guilty of first-degree murder in connection with setting his wife on fire in their Lowell home on March 31, 2021. Santos was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Judge John Pappas.

On March 31, 2021, at approximately 10:40 p.m., emergency personnel responded to a report of large visible flames inside a Varnum Street residence. Upon arrival, they located the victim, Celeste Marte Lebron, 49, being assisted outside by a neighbor. Lowell firefighters and EMTs noted that Lebron had sustained burns covering approximately ninety percent of her body. She was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and, despite extensive medical treatment, succumbed to her injuries on April 20, 2021.

Authorities learned that the defendant was Lebron’s husband, and that he had been the only person home with her at the time of the fire. It was also learned that as the neighbor was assisting Lebron out of the burning residence, she told him that her husband had lit her on fire after accusing her of infidelity.

During the investigation, the defendant was interviewed several times and gave widely conflicting stories. Ultimately, forensic evidence at the scene, developed as a result of the diligent work of the State Police fire investigators assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, disproved his statements and instead showed that De Los Santos went inside the bathroom and set his wife on fire while she was in the bathtub by dousing her with gasoline and igniting her with the lighter.

After the fire started, De Los Santos did not call 911 for assistance for his wife. In fact, when the neighbor assisted her outside for help, De Los Santos attempted to grab his burned wife and take her back inside the house before the police arrived. He also attempted to conceal the cause of the fire by taking the gas can that he used outside and putting it in the back of his truck under his tools.

“Celeste Marte Lebron was a victim of Santos Lebron De Los Santos’ controlling behavior. In the past,  using threats and violence, he isolated his wife and threatened even more violence if she reported his actions to the police. This pattern ultimately escalated to the point where, while his wife was in her bathtub, the defendant attacked her, poured gasoline on her and set her on fire.“  said District Attorney Ryan. “Literally  on fire, Ms. Lebron managed to get herself out of the tub and out of the apartment to seek help.  Yet, the defendant was not finished controlling her. As a neighbor frantically  tried to help Ms. Lebron, who was suffering from horrific burns, the defendant tried to prohibit that man’s helping and pushed to get her back inside  the apartment where he had attempted to incinerate her.  Fighting for her life, Ms. Lebron endured weeks of painful treatment for those excruciating injuries before finally succumbing.  After her death, the defendant told several different versions of how the fire started, alternately attempting to pass his actions off as a joke, a scare tactic, or a faulty electrical issue in an attempt to evade accountability. With this verdict the jury placed  responsibility squarely on the defendant for the horror that he inflicted on Ms. Lebron,” said District Attorney Ryan.

This investigation was conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Lowell Police Department, State Police fire investigators assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and State Police Detectives assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. The assigned prosecutors were ADAs Suzanne Wiseman and Megan McGovern. The Victim Witness Advocate was Dora Quiroz.

Since 2021 there have been 14 domestic homicides in Middlesex County. The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office partners with domestic violence service agencies across the county and the state to offer survivors support and resources.

You can find resources on the DA’s website here.

In 2020, District Attorney Marian Ryan launched a dedicated text line for victims to provide victims with direct access to a victim witness advocate via text message.  The line provides the opportunity for victims in non-emergency situations to have live interaction with an advocate in the District Attorney’s Office without having to say a word. This is a valuable tool both for individuals who may feel safer utilizing text and for young people who often prefer text to phone call. Recognizing that many victims are reaching out with questions regarding personal matters, this line provides a person-to-person connection, which can help alleviate the stress of navigating the criminal justice system. 

Victims can reach an advocate during regular office hours (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) via text message at 1-781-305-0399. The line is not monitored 24/7 and is NOT an emergency line.

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