"She's my woman, not yours!"
Julio González was the arsonist and mass murderer who perpetrated the Happy Land Fire, an arson attack targeting the Happy Land Social Club that cost the lives of 87 people.
González was born in Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. aboard the Mariel boatlift, where he had been imprisoned for military desertion. At some point, he got a job packing boxes for a lamp factory in the Queens borough of New York City, but lost the job ten years later. He also dated a woman named Lydia Feliciano, who was another Cuban refugee, for seven years.
The Happy Land Fire
On the evening of March 25, 1990, González had an argument with Feliciano at the Happy Land Club, where she worked as a coat check girl. He urged her to quit her job, but the argument resulted in Feliciano breaking up with González and him being kicked out of the club by a bouncer. Enraged, he tried to buy a gun, but was unsuccessful. He then walked over to East Tremont and Crotona Parkway to buy gasoline. On the way there, González found an empty Blackhawk Hydraulic Jack Oil container. Inside the gas station, the attendant, a 23-year-old Lehman College freshman named Edward Porras, initially refused to give him gasoline, but changed his mind when another man came along and told him González was all right. González then returned to the club with the container and started spreading the fuel on a staircase, the only entryway into the club, before spilling the gasoline onto the floor and steps of the hallway. After dumping out all of the gasoline, he stepped back, lit two matches, and used them to ignite the gasoline.
González next walked across the street and watched as the fire began to spread. Unfortunately for the people inside the club, the place had several violations, including a lack of fire exits, alarms, or sprinkler systems, which only made the situation worse. In a moment of panic, a metal gate over one door was broken by a group of people. Seeing the broken gate as their only chance of survival, a few people managed to escape through it. After being done watching, González took a bus back to his home and began to think over what he had done, resulting in him crying the entire way back. After arriving at his home, he removed his clothes and fell asleep, but was arrested the following afternoon after police learned of the argument between González and Feliciano. He eventually confessed to starting the fire and was charged with 174 counts of murder, two for each victim, receiving a sentence of 25 years to life for each count. González was eligible for parole during March 2015 but he denied it. He was eligible again in November 2016, but on September 30, González died from a heart attack at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.
When starting the Happy Land Fire, González took advantage of the blocked exits and several violations committed by the club to start the fire. He spilled gasoline on the main staircase and the hallway before igniting the gasoline with two matches. Afterwards, he watched the whole event across the street. Most of the victims were young Hondurans celebrating Carnival.
On Criminal Minds
González is partially similar to serial arsonist and mass murderer Tommy Wheeler. Both used gasoline to start their fires and were motivated by something to do with their romantic lives (Tommy wanted to be alone with his sister who he had a crush on, while González had an argument with his girlfriend). Their massacres also involved the exits being blocked off, thus contributing to a higher body count.