Wilton apartment building was target in arson case

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FARMINGTON — Gene and Andrea Casey of Mexico thanked investigators Tuesday for working together to solve a case of arson that destroyed their summer and future retirement home in Carthage in June.

Andrea Casey said she couldn’t believe it had been solved so fast.

Three men are in state custody charged with this crime and others.

The couple had been preparing to go down to their home for the summer when they learned it had been set on fire, she said.

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They put 15 years into the home and had only to finish the fireplace, she said.

“This was our home,” she said. It was more than just a summer home, the family spent holidays there and from day one kept a logbook in which people visiting wrote, she said as tears welled up.

It was precious and contained memories of 15 years, she said.

“Those guys took that away from me,” she said.

The couple plans to rebuild but it won’t be the same, Gene Casey Sr. said.

The real target of arson June 27 was a Main Street apartment building in Wilton over an “alleged grudge” one suspect had against someone, state fire investigator Sgt. Ken Grimes told media during a news conference outside the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

State fire investigator Kenneth MacMaster, Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. and Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins also answered questions.

The Main Street building was occupied by eight adults and five children, and in any late night-early morning fire, most people are sleeping, Grimes said.

It would have been a horrific, catastrophic situation, he said. The suspects were scared off by barking dogs and didn’t light that house on fire, Grimes said.

Duane Bailey, 27, of Carver, Mass., Devon Pease, 22, of Jay, and D’Kota Rowe, 20, of Wilton, are accused of burning a vacant home at 9 Sewall St., which is behind the Main Street apartment building, hoping that the fire would spread to it, MacMaster’s affidavit states. The fire on Sewall Street was reported 2:29 a.m. 

The home was owned by Kandi Ward of Roxbury.

A fourth person was in the car, according to an investigator’s affidavit. That person has not been charged.

While firefighters and police were dealing with the Wilton fire, Pease was dropped off at his residence in Jay, and Bailey and Rowe continued to drink and drive around with Rowe at the wheel. A third person was also in the car, according to the affidavit.

They made a random stop in front of a camp owned by the Caseys on Winter Hill Road in Carthage and burned it, according to Grimes.

Bailey and Rowe each have been charged with four counts of felony arson for the Sewall Street fire in Wilton and the Carthage fire, and one count each of felony conspiracy to commit arson for the Main Street apartment building in Wilton, Grimes said. Bailey is being held on $50,000 cash bail at the Franklin County jail in Farmington.

Pease has been charged with two counts of arson for the Sewall Street fire and a conspiracy to commit arson charge for the Main Street apartment building. He is being held at the jail on $25,000 cash bail.

Rowe is being held at the jail without bail until he appears before a judge.

The case against a fourth suspect is not concluded, Grimes said.

Each suspect was charged with two different counts of arson for each of the properties they were involved with burning, Robbins said. One count is for the intent to damage or destroy property and the other is for recklessly endangering a person, in this case, firefighters.

A conviction on an arson charge carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

All three suspects have admitted to the crimes, Grimes and Robbins said.

Some of the information that led to the arrests was gleaned from inmates by investigators from the Sheriff’s Office who have a rapport with the inmates, Nichols said.

This is why county jails are highly valued, Nichols said. If the inmates were at another jail, investigators may not have received the information, he said.

MacMaster said he had been following up on leads and was able to reach out to the Sheriff’s Office investigators.

“It is still an ongoing investigation,” Robbins said.

Prosecutors plan to present the case to a grand jury as soon as possible, he said.

dperry@sunmediagroup.net

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