BROCKPORT — A Ridgway man has been charged with multiple felony arson accounts after he allegedly set fire to his Horton Township home to cash in on a sizable insurance policy.
Shawn Anthony Schaefer, 43, 1454 California Road, Ridgway, is charged by state police with arson causing danger death or bodily injury, arson endangering property, arson with the intent to collect insurance, theft by deception, criminal mischief, and insurance fraud.
Charges were filed Dec. 1 with District Judge James L. Martin, of Johnsonburg.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, state police were asked on April 25 to investigate the origin and cause of a fire that damaged a two-story log home at 1454 California Road in Horton Township.
Horton Township’s fire Chief Chad Guaglianone was unable to determined the cause of the fire because it was nearly self-extinguished upon his arrival. The home was listed ‘for sale’ about two weeks before the fire and the owner was not at home when it started. The fire caused significant damage to the inside of the house.
State police fire marshal Cpl. Greg Agosti determined the fire was started by a lit candle on the kitchen counter. It spread through the house, following the path of drywall spray adhesive that had been sprayed in the stairwell and on a wall and living room carpet.
A neighbor said she took her dog outside just before midnight that evening when she saw an explosion inside of Schaefer’s home. She then called 911.
Shortly before the time of the fire, Schaefer had left the house to go to Sheetz to get something to eat.
Police say Schaefer’s credit report showed multiple accounts that were placed for collection. It was also found that Schaefer had a $457,252 insurance policy on the home.
Additionally, the investigation into the fire’s timeline showed there was not enough time for someone else to have entered the residence and started the fire. Also, the timeline indicates Schaefer was on the property or nearby when the fire ignited.
Schaefer was arraigned Dec. 1 by Martin, at which time bail was set at $25,000, unsecured.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13 at Martin’s office in Johnsonburg.