SPRINGFIELD — A man who murdered a family of five — including two young children — by burning them to death in their home nearly four decades ago will be released on parole this year.

Clarence Carter was just 17 years old in 1985 when he broke into a Springfield house where his ex-girlfriend's family was sleeping, poured gasoline throughout the first floor, and lit a blanket on fire before dropping it onto the floor.

Now 54, Carter will be released on parole, per a Jan. 12 decision from the Massachusetts Parole Board.

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Carter had pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, Renee McCoy, and her family in the fire, which he set at around 2 a.m. on Dec. 2, 1985.

McCoy, her 22-month-old daughter Cassandra, her 3-year-old nephew Joseph Blanks, her 19-year-old brother Gerald McCoy, and her mother Barbara McCoy, 39, all perished in the blaze.

Carter told the parole board in a prior hearing in 2016 that he and Renee had dated for about a year and a half before she broke up with him the day of the murders.

He then went to his sister's house, drank alcohol and took drugs before returning to the McCoy house with a gas can to set the fire.

Since then, Carter has remained in prison, and was denied parole in 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016.

This time, the parole board noted that Carter is assessed as low risk for violence and has engaged with multiple programs to address issues with empathy and violent behavior.

He has also maintained sobriety and employment throughout his incarceration, and has acted as a mentor in the facility, according to the board's Jan. 12 decision.

Carter will be released after spending six months at a lower-security facility.

He will be subject to a curfew, electronic monitoring, drugs and alcohol testing, and counseling.

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