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Hereford Man Pleads Guilty to Burning Residence
Written by Bradly Schlegel, Staff Writer
2019-04-17

            A Hereford man took responsibility Monday for setting fire to his residence in June of 2017. Richard Roy Younger, 54, of Seisholtzville Road, pleaded guilty to causing a catastrophe, a second degree felony, in Berks County Common Pleas Court.

            President Judge Thomas G. Parisi sentenced Younger to between 364 and 729 days in jail, followed by eight years of probation. The judge also directed the defendant, who has been credited with 675 days of time served, to have no contact with Daniel Wetzel, his former landlord. A jury trial in the case was scheduled for April 23, according to information posted on a state judicial website.

            Younger was represented by Richard Alan Joyce Jr., a Berks County public defender. Charles Fenn Prutzman Jr., the county's assistant district attorney, prosecuted the case, according to the legal website.

            At 5:08 a.m. on June 9, fire fighters arrived at the trailer Younger was renting on Seisholtzville Road – near the intersection with Hunter Forge Road – to discover flames shooting out of the roof of the residence, smoldering debris in the front yard and smoke emitting from a metal barrel outside, according to the police criminal complaint filed in the Boyertown court of District Judge Michael Hartman.

            According to law enforcement officials, Younger, 53, who rented the trailer, allegedly started the fire on the property after an argument with the property owner, who lived in a different portion of the residence. The owner told police that Younger asked him for some kerosene around midnight. He said that he and Younger had gotten into an argument that night and Younger told him, "We'll see who leaves."

            Around 5 a.m., the property owner said he woke to the sound of explosions and observed explosions and fire in the front yard of the property. He told police that he saw Younger standing in his doorway watching the explosions and fire. The owner called 911 when he noticed smoke coming from the roof of the residence. He said that Younger was still standing in the doorway when he saw the trailer start to catch fire. Younger fled the scene and told the owner not to tell police he started the fire, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

            Around 5:40 a.m., fire crews and state police requested a fire marshal to respond to the scene to conduct an origin and cause investigation. State Police Fire Marshal Janssen Herb determined multiple areas of origin existed, which is indicative of intentionally set fires. He wrote in the affidavit that he "determined … all of the fires were intentionally set with an open flame to combustible materials or vapors."

            Authorities declared the structure a total loss and estimated the damage at $75,000, according to a state police release. Police interviewed Younger around 11:20 a.m. June 9 after locating him down the street from the residence. Younger told police that he went to bed around 10 p.m., but woke up at some time during the night and burned items in a metal barrel outside the residence. He said he used kerosene and a disposable lighter to ignite papers in the barrel.

            Younger said he then fell back asleep and woke up to find the interior of the house on fire. According to the affidavit, Younger "admitted that he knew the fire in the residence to be intentionally started, but was unable to explain who caused it."

            Younger said he did not know where the kerosene container was located, and that he must have thrown it. But he later told police that he was confused and could have taken the container inside the residence, the affidavit states.

            Younger was arrested at 12:10 p.m. June 9, 2017 and was charged with aggravated assault, arson-danger of death or bodily injury and arson of an inhabited structure or building – all first degree felonies – as well as criminal mischief, a third degree felony, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.


 

 

 

 

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