Two West Virginia Teens Charged in Apartment Arson

Two teenagers have been charged with setting a fire that heavily damaged a three-story apartment complex and left more than three dozen people homeless.


ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) -- Two teenagers have been charged with setting a fire that heavily damaged a three-story apartment complex and left more than three dozen people homeless.

Jason David Louk, 19, of Elkins and a 16-year-old Elkins male were arrested Monday on first-degree arson charges. Louk was being held at the Randolph County Jail on $100,000 cash bond. The juvenile was in custody at a juvenile holding facility, said Elkins police Capt. Jack Batdorf.

The June 4 fire caused $500,000 in damage to Allegheny Apartments. Seventeen of the building's 19 apartments were occupied at the time but all the residents escaped without injury, Richard Holland, the building's owner, had said.

The fire started in apartment occupied by Lana Gilardi, who was not at home at the time. Gilardi told police the juvenile was in the apartment when she left, according to a criminal complaint filed in magistrate court.

A surveillance camera captured on videotape the juvenile and Louk leaving the apartment at about 8:18 p.m. The suspects were ``looking back at the door as if watching for something to happen,'' the complaint alleged.

Louk allegedly stood in the hallway while the juvenile went back, opened the door, looked inside and then closed the door, the complaint said.

About 40 minutes later, the juvenile returned to the apartment and bent down and felt the door. He opened the door and then ran as smoke came out of the apartment, the complaint said.