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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Friday, December 13, 2019

District Woman Found Guilty of Setting Fire to her Grandmother’s Home

           WASHINGTON – Vivian Marion Hairston, 37, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury today for setting fire to her grandmother’s home in the Kingman Park neighborhood of Northeast Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu.

           Hairston was found guilty of arson with a senior citizen enhancement and destruction of property following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Michael O’Keefe scheduled sentencing for February 21, 2020.

           According to the government’s evidence, on May 2, 2019, Hairston went to her 78-year-old grandmother’s house and got into an argument with her mother about not being let inside the house due to her PCP use. Hairston told her mother that she would “be back,” and 15 minutes later she returned holding a gallon jug of yellow liquid and poured the liquid all over the enclosed front porch. She set a fire and left while her grandmother was asleep in the basement and her mother and other family members, including a 1-year-old, were inside. A few minutes later, family members saw smoke and ran out to see the porch on fire. The family was able to put the fire out before there was any major damage. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determined that gasoline was used as an accelerant to light the fire. The jug was never recovered. A doorbell camera captured Hairston pouring a liquid onto the porch but unfortunately cut out before she set the fire. 

           In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Liu commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vivian Kim, who initially investigated the case, Dana Joseph, and Eric Nguyen. She also praised Victim Witness Advocates Tracy Owusu and Elsa Maltese and Paralegals TJ McPhail and ReShawn Johnson.  

           The U.S. Attorney’s Office works with the Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and other law enforcement partners on investigations of crimes targeting older victims. The Office hopes to build on its work successfully prosecuting such cases and in addition, the Office will continue its extensive community outreach efforts in hopes of increasing awareness to protect seniors.

           More information about the Department of Justice’s elder justice efforts can be found on its Elder Justice Website at

Press Release Number: 
Updated December 13, 2019