Homeowner believes fire was retaliation
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Youngstown firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire that the home-owner believes is part of a retaliation scheme against her family for one member’s making a statement in a murder trial.
Reports say someone tried to set fire to the South Side home in the early- morning hours of Saturday by setting fire to clothes in the garage, a trash can in the rear yard and started a fire beside the rear south door.
The fires had already been extinguished by the time the fire department arrived at the house. Firefighters reported no damage to the structure from the fire, but police did find a note taped to the front door of the house stating “You will die soon and your mother,” referring to the 22-year-old resident of the home and his 42-year-old mother.
The mother told police her son was a witness in a murder case out of Campbell in March of this year. She said since that time her son has experienced different forms of intimidation.
The woman told police her son has received death threats via the telephone from various people calling from numbers that do not appear on the caller ID. She said her son has been staying away from home for his own safety since the attempted arson.
“It’s really just too bad. It’s just best that he stay away,” she said. “Now he is just thinking that he shouldn’t have gotten involved.”
The woman said if authorities were going to solicit a statement from her son they should have provided him with a greater sense of security.
Capt. Mark Milstead, Youngstown police, said the family does reside in the city so Youngstown police will patrol the area around the home more frequently to make sure there are no more issues at the home.
Milstead said the department coordinates with the county prosecutor’s office to protect witnesses who may be in harm’s way. “If there is a need to temporarily move someone we try to find funds for that. There is no system, but we handle these on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Anyone caught attempting to intimidate a witness to a crime will be charged with felony intimidation of a witness, Milstead said.