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Arrest made in Middletown arson fire


UPDATE, Oct. 17:

Middletown police made an arrest in this arson fire. Ross Compton, 59, is the previous resident of this home and currently staying at a hotel. He’s charged with felony aggravated arson and insurance fraud.

He was charged Oct. 17, and will appear in Middletown Municipal Court at 9 a.m. Oct. 19.

UPDATE, Sept. 21:

Middletown fire investigators said there were multiple points of origin of the fire from the outside of the residence, according to a search warrant obtained by the Journal-News.

In his 911 call, the homeowner said that “everyone” was out of the house and at the end of the call is heard saying to someone to “get out of here now.”

Ross Compton Jr., 58, the homeowner, has extensive medical problems, including an artificial heart implant and he uses an eternal pump. When he saw the fire, Compton said he packed up his belongings in a suitcase, bags and threw them out his bedroom window after he broke out the glass with a cane. He placed the items in the vehicle that was parked in the driveway, according to the search warrant.

Police said Compton gave statements that were “inconsistent” with the evidence at the fire. He also gave conflicting statements to the ones he told the 911 operator, police said.

Police removed 16 items from the home and from Compton, according to the document. They removed his clothing, computers and paperwork.

No arrests have been made, police said.

ORIGINAL STORY, Sept. 19:

Residents were awakened Monday morning by a “loud explosion” that came from a house fire in the 1900 block of Court Donegal, they said.

A neighbor said his two dogs started barking around 6:30 a.m., and when he looked out his bedroom window, he saw flames shooting in the air.

The man called 9-1-1, then ran next door to check to see if anyone was home. He saw two men running from the residence. One of them, Ross Compton Jr., 58, the homeowner, was carrying a computer tower and asked the man for assistance to put it in his vehicle. The neighbor said he did not recognize the other man.

Once the neighbor was told there was no one else in the house, he became concerned the flames may catch nearby trees on fire and then spread to his home. However, all the recent rain likely kept that from happening, he said.

Another neighbor, Gina Pennington, said after hearing the explosion, she looked out and saw “big flames” coming from across her street.

Throughout the day, Middletown police and fire officials remained at the residence that’s located off Riverview Avenue. Lt. Jim Cunningham returned around 12:30 p.m. with a search warrant. Earlier in the day, he said police were conducting a criminal investigation.

A crime scene identification truck was parked near the residence, and police posted caution tape around the house.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Spaulding said the cause of the fire was undetermined. He said the fire caused about $400,000 in damages to the structure and contents. The 2,000-square-foot home, which has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, was built in 1977 and was valued at $179,000, according to the Butler County Auditor’s website.

Spaulding said firefighters arrived on scene at 6:45 a.m., six minutes after being dispatched. He said there was heavy fire coming from the roof of the garage when firefighters arrived. It took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the fire under control, he said.

Compton was transported to Atrium Medical Center, then released in the afternoon, police said. Fire officials said Compton’s injuries were not the result of the blaze. He had a previous medical condition, they said.



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