Chester Twp. man charged with arson
By Zenaida Mendez, Daily Record
MOUNT OLIVE -- A Chester Township man who occasionally lived in a single-family home on Church Street that was consumed by fire early Saturday has been charged with deliberately setting the blaze with a liquid accelerant, authorities said Monday.
Police received a call about the fire at 33 Church St. at about 12:15 a.m. Saturday. Upon arrival, police and members of the Budd Lake Fire Department found the home engulfed in flames. There were no occupants in the house at the time the fire was reported, and it appeared that the main fire was in a rear section on the first-floor, said Joseph Devine, chief of investigations for the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.
The house is owned by the proprietor of the Pavilion Lounge on Sandshore Road in Mount Olive. She was not available for comment Monday.
While fighting the house blaze, firefighters noted a second fire flaring inside a detached garage on the property. They discovered a one-pound propane torch on top of a work bench, and the lit torch was contacting a wall behind the bench, Devine said.
The house itself was "gutted" and in danger of collapse by the time the flames were under control in about two hours, police said. Members of the Morris County Prosecutor's Office arson unit, working with the county Sheriff's Office and Mount Olive detectives, found multiple areas in the house where a liquid accelerant was splashed, Devine said.
Patrol officers said they interviewed several witnesses who placed Arthur Masonheimer at the scene just before the fire. The 41-year-old Masonheimer was located in a backyard of an acquaintance who lived nearby, and later was charged with aggravated arson and lodged in the Morris County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Masonheimer has a history of convictions, and in November 2001 was sent to prison on a charge of failing to obtain a weapons permit. He had been charged on July 28, 2001, with unlawful possession of weapons after he rode a mountain bicycle around a Chester Township neighborhood showing off a handgun and pellet gun. He told a judge that he was under the influence of alcohol when he showed the guns off to children and adults around the township. Masonheimer was released from prison in September 2002.
Devine credited office Detective Supervisor George Wendt and Detectives Robert McDermott and Angelo Rosato, who were at the fire scene from 12:45 a.m. Saturday until 7:30 p.m. that night.
Police also arrested the acquaintance whose yard Masonheimer was in during the fire investigation. Officer Luis Sanchez saw the neighbor, Alan Peterson, 40, running on Baker Lane at 3:40 a.m., and while interviewing him, allegedly noticed symptoms of drug use and saw Peterson attempt to destroy or discard a partially-smoked marijuana cigarette. Sanchez also found a Vicodin tablet on Peterson, who did not have a prescription for the drug, as well as a small piece of crack cocaine, a wire screen used to smoke marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. Peterson was charged with possession of crack cocaine and marijuana, drug paraphernalia and hindering apprehension.
Zenaida Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973)989-0652.
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Thread: NJ Arrest
07-29-2003, 11:36 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
07-29-2003, 12:00 PM #2
Why do you think they call it dope?
You would think that the other guy would have "stashed" his stash, around all those police officers.... But then again it dosent sound like the brain surgeons convention was in that neighborhood.
07-29-2003, 12:10 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
The idiot wasn't even under arrest. Nobody was going to search him. He is the poster child for "This is your brain on drugs".
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