Is Virginia Gratto Responsible for the Fire That Killed her 7 Kids and Husband?

New York investigators question Virginia Gratto in connection to 1978 arson.

ByABC News
March 26, 2010, 11:55 AM

March 26, 2010 — -- The woman who was the sole survivor of a devastating house fire that left her seven children and husband dead has now become the focal point of the investigation into the more than 30-year-old cold case.

Virginia Gratto, who now goes by Virginia Utigard, was visited earlier this week by New York authorities near her home in Okanogan, Wash., where she moved just months after her family was killed in 1978.

Reached by telephone at her home, Gratto told that she had no comment, but told ABC News' Spokane affiliate KXLY that she was "pressured into signing a confession" when she met with investigators Wednesday at the local sheriff's office.

Gratto told KXLY that she was interviewed for more than seven hours and added that she had "nothing to hide." She later claimed that she was made to sign a confession while she professed her innocence.

Gratto's husband, John Gratto Sr., and her seven children, ranging in age from nine to four-month-old twin girls, were killed on June 2, 1978 when a fire tore through their two-story home in Cohoes, N.Y., just north of Albany, while the family slept.

According to local reports at the time of the fire, firefighters spent more than three hours putting out the blaze, which was described as a "wall of flame."

The eight victims were determined to have died from asphyxiation. Gratto, who was three months pregnant at the time with her eighth child, managed to escape without any serious injuries.

The fire was deemed intentional and an act of arson by a grand jury in 1979.

Gratto has since maintained her innocence, telling a local newspaper at the time, "There's no way I would have done such a thing."

When asked if she tried to go back into the house to save her family, Gratto told reporters at the time, "Yes, I tried to get back in at least for the twins."