POLAND Fire and beating precede death
Police don't know why the man waited so long to report an assault.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- A day after his house burned to the ground last week, a township man told police he had been beaten in his home nearly a month ago. Within 48 hours after that, he was found dead.
The body of Matthew Perkins, 27, was discovered over the weekend at an area motel. Authorities have not said exactly where or when. An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Monday evening to determine the cause of death.
Thursday afternoon, firefighters were called to the home at 8411 Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road that Perkins and another man rented. When firefighters arrived, the home was engulfed in flames with fire shooting out of every window, door and an attached garage. Perkins and his house mate were not home.
Several firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, and two dogs and three cats were killed in the blaze. Fire Chief David Comstock said the cause is still under investigation as authorities wait for a number of items to be lab-tested.
"The fire moved extremely quickly and had a great amount of heat," said Comstock. "Those are indications that an accelerant could have been used to start and spread the fire, and for that reason it is being investigated."
According to Comstock, no witnesses reported seeing anyone around the house immediately before the fire.
Friday afternoon, the day after the fire, Perkins went to township police to report a felonious assault that he said happened in his home in late June.
Police Chief Carl Massullo was unsure why Perkins waited nearly four weeks before reporting the assault to authorities. Patrolman Dan Aracich took the report from Perkins, but he could not be reached Monday to comment.
According to Aracich's report, Perkins said he was sleeping at home when two men he knew from former business interactions came into his room and began beating him with objects from the home. The men also repeatedly kicked him before leaving, he said.
At that time Perkins was treated at Beeghly Medical Center for a nose fracture, other facial fractures and head trauma.
Within 48 hours of filing the report, Perkins would be found dead.
Massullo said the reported assault is still under investigation, but a conviction would be difficult with the only witness to the crime now deceased.