Residential house fire lands man arrest for arson

By Mary Meyers
Atchison Globe – May 24, 2017

Photo by Mary Meyers. Click on photo to view full-size.

Formal charges are pending against a 47-year old Atchison man arrested for arson after an overnight investigation concerning a Monday evening fire inside an unoccupied midtown dwelling.

Gary W. Skeen was arrested and booked for arson Tuesday afternoon at the Atchison County Jail where he was held following his arrest on misdemeanors Monday night.

The arrest came after emergency responders were dispatched about 6 p.m. to the scene where smoke was reportedly seen emitted from inside a residence in the 900 block of Atchison Street. Atchison Fire Department firefighters, Atchison Police, Atchison County EMS Ambulance crews and Atchison County Rescue volunteers were present on the scene.

Atchison Fire Chief Ted Graf and Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson agreed the agencies joined forces with authorities from Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office to pinpoint the cause of the blaze.

Graf said the preliminary findings indicated the origin was of a suspicious nature.

Investigators discovered pour patterns from an incendiary in one area of the house. The damages were mostly confined articles in one room, indicating the fire could have been intentionally set.

Wilson said the stages of an active investigation progressed into a criminal investigation involving arson.

Police initially arrested Skeen, a known acquaintance of the 48-year-old female homeowner, about 8:30 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of South Second Street for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.

Wilson said shortly after the fire police were on the lookout for Skeen to talk to him about the incident. Police located him and approached him about the house fire. Skeen became emotionally upset and moved objects in a rude or angry manner. He was apprehended, transported and booked into custody. Misdemeanor charges were filed Tuesday in district court that include assault and interference with law enforcement.

AFD Captain Bill Andre said the scene was released back to the homeowner on Tuesday morning, which means the cleanup process can commence. Andre said in the event of structure fires, it is a routine practice to turn off all gas and electrical utilities until the structures are deemed safe.

Skeen is currently a violent offender registrant until Oct. 21, 2029, according to a KBI Registered Offender Search online. Skeen has been registered since May 3, 2012 following his release from Kansas Department of Corrections in connection with a 2001 conviction on conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. Skeen’s conviction arose from the Kurt Boldridge homicide that occurred on or about March 18, 2000 a few miles south of Atchison city limits in Walnut Township.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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