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The Burlington Free Press from Burlington, Vermont • Page 1
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The Burlington Free Press from Burlington, Vermont • Page 1

Burlington, Vermont
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imeiv-rrisvr'' i hi' nw Vormcn? clicbro win Artist David Bumbcck.l I initio sympnony or prims -In LIVING fl I MEM 154th Yar Serving Vermont No. 321 Sunday, November 16, 1980 Eight News Soctions45 Cents i Arson Good Morning, Vermont Deliberately Set Fires In State Rise Significantly 7. "4 4 i. ft- Special Report 'ay' 7 Mostly Sunny Today is expected to be mostly sunny but chilly, with highs 30-35; clear and cold tonight, lows 10-15 Page 2A Sports College Hockey Vermont 9..... USIU 7 Norwich 11 Army 7 College Football Plymouth 14 Norwich 7 Georgia 31 Auburn 21 Dartmouth 28.

Brown 24 Penn St. 50. 7 Pittsburgh 45 7 Michigan 26 Purdue 0 Nebraska 35. Iowa St. 0 Ohio St.

41 Iowa 7 Baylor 16.. Rice 6 Oklahoma 17 Missouri 7 Washington 20 10 By JOE MAHONEV Fra Prau StoH Writer An Addison County man sets fire to the small cabin in which his young daughter resides with her boyfriend. Two students at U-32 High School in East Montpelier start a fire in a closet filled with costumes for a school play. The costumes'are ruined and all 900 students in the building have to be evacuated. The charred track of deliberately set fires in Vermont grows longer each year.

In five years, the arson rate has risen 270 percent. In the year that ended June 30, Public Safety Department arson investigators determined that 281 of the 585 fires they probed were definitely arson an average of five a week. The figure dwarfs the 104 cases of arson five years ago. Despite the grim statistics, the state completed the year with no arson-blamed fatalities. Two years ago, arsonists snuffed out the lives of four Vermonters, including a Barre woman and her two young children.

The amount of damage caused by incendiary fires in the last year is $4.4 million, according to a study compiled by the state fire marshal's office. Another $419,000 worth of property was lost in fires "believed incendiary." Fires whose causes were categorized as "undetermined" demolished an additional $1.8 million worth of property, sr The number of arrests also has increased 17 people were arrested for arson in 1975 and five times that figure were cited in the past year. But investigators are bothered that only a few of those arrested for arson are convicted. Cases are difficult to prosecute, officials say, because state's attorneys often must rely on sketchy circumstantial evidence. It is not uncommon for charges to be reduced or dismissed, said State Police Lt.

Lawrence Wade, Vermont's chief fire investigator. "We don't have the number of convictions we would like to have," he said. "It's a tough crime to prosecute." In the past, some state's attorneys were not fully "comfortable" about prosecuting the cases, he said. Now, he said, all of them "are really getting into the swing of things" as a result of recent seminars with fire investigators and insurance adjusters. A nationwide study of arson in cities with populations of more than 50,000 showed that the most frequent cause of incendiary blazes was vandalism.

In Vermont, however, the motive more often than not is insurance fraud, Wade said. The national arson study showed the profit motive in only 14 percent of the cases. Wade and others interviewed about the wave of fire-setting cited the national economic malaise as the basis for arson for profit. The temptation to defraud an insurance company often comes when an individual finds himself overburdened financially, said Norman Roberts of Verity Research Ltd. of Montpelier, a firm hired by insurance corn-Turn to ARSON, Page 10A if'', Auto Belonging To Missing Man Found in Williston WILLISTON A motor vehicle owned by a handicapped Essex man who disappeared last month has been found near a gravel pit off West Oak Hill Road in Wilfred King III.

37, of Jericho Road was last seen about 1 p.m. Oct. 24 when he left his home. His bloodied crutches were found in Colchester the following day by hunters. King's four-wheel-drive vehicle was found about 10 p.m.

Friday by a hunter scouting the area, according to state police. A search party of Essex and state police officers combed the wooded area and a nearby Brdttleboro Arsonist: Will He Strike Again? the motive." The Brattleboro arsonist appeared to know his business well. "It isn't a case of going into a building and just lighting a newspaper," Mattison said. "He set it in two different stairways. In a stairway he must know you got a pretty good draft and there's wood all Turn to ARSONIST, Page 10A ing out revenge and the profit motive.

"We have no idea what the motive is," he said. Asked if the fires appeared to be the work of a pyromaniac, someone who gets his kicks out of lighting fires, he nodded. "I would say more that than anything. But anybody who sets a fire has got to be sick, regardless of mustache, wearing a blue wind-breaker. 'This has been going on for some time now," the fire chief said.

"First, he throws a stone through a window of a business to set off a burglar alarm so that police will be distracted." Mattison said the arsonist did not attempt to steal anything. The buildings have different owners, rul Most people in the buildings were asleep, but not Lyndon Ortiz Ortiz was hungry -for an early morning snack when he heard the arsonist slip into the hallway. His wife looked out. She saw flames, but not the arsonist. Down the street, at 103 Main, two women saw the arsonist.

They gave police a description of a stocky man with' dark, wavy hair and a By JOE MAHONEY FrM Prau Staff Writer Thick black smoke billowed up the stairway of the 117 Main St. apartment building in Brattleboro early last Tuesday morning. The smoke clogged the lungs of sleeping Alice The woman was home from the hospital 36 hours later, recuperating from the smoke That same afternoon, Brattleboro Fire Chief Howard Mattison tapped his fingers nervously on his desk, worried that the arsonist "who set three separate blazes almost simultaneously the day. before would strike again. "We're lost really as to why this guy is doing it," he said.

"This guy" entered three Main Street apartment buildings Tuesday about 2 a.m, and lit three fires in the stairwells. High Court Ruling Dismays Fire Investigators road Saturday morning in an unsuccessful search for King. Police Chief John Terry said a woman who lives nearby reported she saw the vehicle, with a man inside, in the same area two days after King disappeared. King, also known as "Butch." is 5 feet 4 inches, 130 pounds. His crutches have been sent to the state police laboratory for analysis.

State police said King was injured in a car-pedestrian crash in front of his home April 18, 1978. LocolStoto THREE HUNTERS die of apparently natural causes and -one is admitted to a Randolph hospital with a gunshot wound as hundreds of hunters flock to Vermont woods in search of the elusive "white tail" IB Imlfjht IF YOU THINK you're hear- ing more these days about the mechanics of transition from one presidency to the next, you're right. It really is quite a new thing In presidential history MA the state failed to show that Benjamin Huginski plotted an arson of his Townshend home while in Vermont. The court said the state's only evidence had put" Huginski in New York or Connecticut when he allegedly arranged to have the home burned in 1977., got? Aren't New York and Connecticut and Vermont all in the same country?" A jury convicted Huginski of procuring an arsonist to destroy the home, gutted Aug. 15, 1977.

Prosecutors, during the trial, Turn to RULING, Page 14A By JOE MAHONEY Fw Prau Staff Writer A recent Vermont Supreme Court ruling overturning a Connecticut man's arson conviction has dismayed fire investigators, who vow to press new Charges. The high court ruled Nov. 3 that "That's not completely over with," said State Police Lt. Larry Wade, Vermont's chief fire investigator. 'The state's attorney down there (John Rocray of Windham County) will continue with it." Fire Chief Howard Mattison of Brattleboro fumed.

"Where the hell do we stand? What justice have we -as 1 I all 6 Ox. mitrffhfr! itrmn -r Vf 3, mmrr'm New Vermont Legislature Is Younger By ROB ELEY Frw Prau Staff Writer The Vermont Legislature' is getting younger and less experienced, Almost one-third of the representatives and senators who convene Jan. 4 in Montpelier will be in their first day on the job. Roughly half of both the ISO-member House' and 30-member Senate will be legislators serving their first, second or third two-year terms. turnover Is about equal to the rate during the decarje.

but more than in the 1979-80 session, according- to Frank M. Bryan, University of Vermont political science professor. There were 3 1 new House members and three new 'senators last Bryan said, compared to 53 new House members and eight new senators elected Nov. 4. During the 1970s, each election produced an average 48 new representatives and six new senators, he said.

"It's more than normal," said William P. Russell, chief legislative draftsman in the Legislative Council, Turn to SOLONS, Page 14A World IRAN WILL MAKE a decision soon on the U.S. reply to Iran's terms for releasing the 52 American hostages, possibly "In two or three days," an adviser to the Iranian prime minister says Page IA Ciatwerd9D Oetdeers 7C Fanua ItA ID mM 1IA -ID wTstLf-L-jA WarIUJA Fkm PfMi Staff Photo Lhiag ID UcalStaUlB Maggie ID The recently elected legislature will be younger and less experienced.

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