Family believes woman found dead after fire was murder victim

DENVER -- Police are investigating the death of a woman found in a fire near West First Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

But the family of the woman believe her death wasn’t an accident.

Witness video from the night of Nov. 6 shows the reach of the flames that killed 25-year-old Alisha Ulibarri.

“She had the biggest heart that anyone has ever seen in a little girl her size,” said Alisha’s mother, Tammy Savacool.  “A police officer from this district told me that Alisha had a small candle in the structure, fell asleep and kicked it over."

But several people, including J.R. Travis, who once lived on these streets and knew Ulibarri and the crew she was with, say otherwise.

“You got flames 20 feet high in an elm tree. Twenty feet high. It doesn’t do that without an accelerant,” he said.

Travis said the fire was intentionally started. He pointed Savacool to the people Ulibarri was with that night.

Savacool confronted those people, including one woman who she believes is responsible for her daughter’s death.

“She told me they were playing a game and then smiled at me,” Savacool said of the woman she believes was involved. “They said she doused her in lighter fluid and set a structure on fire that Alisha was laying down sleeping in."

She said witnesses said her daughter and another woman were arguing over a man. Not long after that, flames covered Ulibarri and the shack, Savacool said.

“Nobody deserves to die, not in this manner, not in any other way, over a guy,” Savacool said.

Now she said she won’t rest until she finds justice for her daughter.

“You killed a person. Everybody knows what happens when we play with fire,” she said.

The Denver Police Department said it can’t release details because it would hurt the integrity of the investigation. It said it’s still a death investigation, pending the results of forensic tests.