'This is a nightmare': Ex-girlfriend of apartment fire suspect recalls tragic night

Suspect admits to starting fire, court docs say

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Ashley Mercier, the woman whose apartment burned at 3:20 a.m. on July 23, said she needs help.

“This has already been a hard enough time for me and my family and the families of the Tahir and Jason. We all need help emotionally, mentally and financially,” she said over the phone.

Court documents show she had a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Monaco. However, she told detectives they’d been out drinking the night of the fire and ended up back at her apartment.

The two argued and she left. He stayed behind, texting, calling and telling her to come home. At one point, according to the documents, he told her he had soaked her couch with gasoline and it was the first to burn. A short time later, she discovered her apartment was indeed on fire.

Tahir Ali Alhaji, 24, and Jason Miller, 42, were asleep upstairs in the three-bedroom apartment.

Both died in the fire.

“It’s just horrific. I hope justice is brought for me and my friends and their families,” Mercier said.

“The person who is responsible for this will pay dearly,” she continued.

Monaco has been charged with aggravated murder and arson in connection with the fire.

It’s been a long, difficult week, Mercier said.

“This is a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. As for the two people who died, they were my friends, not just my roommates."

And, she said, she needs help. She’s set up a GoFundMe account and said she believes there are also accounts for Tahir Al Haji and Jason Miller, and a neighboring refugee family that lost everything in the fire.

“I’ve been on my own since 17. Everything I’ve ever accumulated or worked hard for. I lost all of that. I didn’t lose it, it was taken from me,” she said.

Mercier said she was not able to say more because the investigation into the fatal fire is ongoing.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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