Firefighters arrested in string of arson fires

Police take firemen into custody
2013-10-25T16:30:00Z 2014-03-12T07:57:10Z Firefighters arrested in string of arson firesPAT PRATT 573-518-3616 Daily Journal Online
October 25, 2013 4:30 pm  • 

Two Park Hills firefighters have been charged with six counts of second-degree arson.

Bradley J. Easter, 29, and Dale R. Hamor, 22, both of Park Hills, are being held in the St. Francois County Jail. Bond is set at $100,000 for each suspect.

The names were released at a 3 p.m. press conference at the Leadington Police Department.

"The reference to this is some reports we've had and some actual charges filed now on some arsons that we have been investigating during the latter part of the spring and into the summer months. At this point we have two individuals charged," said St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin.

The prosecutor says more charges could be forthcoming.

"We are still investigating this case and it looks like we could have one or two more individuals that could be involved. We are looking into further charges of possible burglary, property damage and anything else that may stem from these events. We hope to have the other individuals in custody later today or first thing the morning," Mahurin said Friday.

He added that with the investigation still ongoing there were several details that could not be released, but he believes they "have the individuals they are looking for."

According to court documents, the two volunteer firefighters are accused of setting six fires in the Park Hills area, the first of which occurred April 30 on 103 Rinke Street. The two also admitted to setting the second fire at the same address, 103 Rinke Street, at 1:20 a.m. on July 16 according to court records.

In the first Rinke Street fire, the state fire marshal determined that there were no utilities connected and ruled out any accidental causes. During interviews with police, Easter said he drove Hamor to the house in both instances and that Hamor went in and set the fire. Easter then returned and picked him up.

He continued that after the fire was set, both times they went back to the fire station and waited for a dispatch. They then went to fight the fire alongside the other firefighters.

Police say under questioning Hamor admitted to setting both fires using an ignitable liquid purchased by Easter, and using a lighter.

Although outside of city limits and in St. Francois County, the third fire was 10:25 p.m. July 23 at 4418 Route O. Police say the duo used the same method of operation as in the first fire. Easter dropped off Hamor, Hamor set the fire, and Easter picked him up. Hamor allegedly told police that in this fire he entered an unlocked door at the residence, lit a piece of paper and dropped it in gasoline.

The fourth fire occurred at 10:25 p.m. July 27 at 227 East Elvins Boulevard. Due to the extent of the damage to the two-story brick building, a cause could not be determined. However, the fire marshal reported the incident as a criminal investigation due to the fact that there were no utilities connected to the structure and this was the third fire in a vacant structure in 11 days.

Easter said he dropped off Hamor and Hamor set the fire using gasoline, according to police. However Hamor said he put down the gasoline, but Easter lit it. Easter denied being in the building.

The fifth fire happened at 2:04 a.m. Aug. 6 at 205 Front Street in Park Hills. In this instance the two suspects were assisted by another firefighter, according to statement made to police. Charges have not been filed against that individual as of this time.

Police say Easter told them Hamor drove another Park Hills firefighter to the house using his (Easter's) car. Easter said the third suspect went in and attempted to set the fire, but apparently it didn't work, so he (Easter) drove Hamor back to the house. Easter said Hamor set the fire, came back out and they returned to the firehouse.

Hamor confirmed the story and added the third firefighter kicked in the back door and attempted to set the fire. He said after no fire call came, Easter took him back to the residence and he set the fire using gasoline.

In the last arson charge, the sixth fire, both Easter and Hamor went into the house. This fire erupted at 3:15 a.m. on Aug. 29 at 306 West Fite Street in Park Hills. Fire investigators reported the origin of the blaze to be in the living room, but no cause could be determined due to the amount of damage.

The cause, according to the two firefighters in custody, was gasoline that Hamor poured on the structure and a piece of lit paper thrown down by Easter.

The arrests come as a result of a cooperative effort between local law enforcement organizations and the state fire marshal’s office. On Thursday evening the two firemen were interviewed at the Leadington Police Station by officers from the department and the Missouri Department of Conservation regarding the illegal taking of wildlife.

Authorities say it was during this interview that the firemen admitted their roles in a string of set fires that occurred earlier in the year.

"We brought them in for questioning involving the shooting of a deer and they pretty much broke down and told us how many and how long it spread out, which was a little over a year," said Leadington Police Chief Rick Pogue.

The chief said at that point they contacted the state fire marshal.

Pat Pratt is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3616 or ppratt@dailyjournalonline.com

Copyright 2015 Daily Journal Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) Comments

  1. crazylady
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    crazylady - November 06, 2013 8:01 pm
    Everyone's made mistakes. No one can judge but we are allowed to our opinions.
  2. crazylady
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    crazylady - November 06, 2013 6:10 pm
    And to think they must have been guilty inside cause they was getting questioned with the deer stuff not the fires.
  3. crazylady
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    crazylady - November 06, 2013 6:02 pm
    No one is running their mouths they are speaking the truth about the crimes these guys committed. They should be punished and have to do a lot of time. This isn't just a bogus thing this is something they planned out. Not like a drug dealer who lives to sell drugs but a person who was so bored and had no life but to ruin others is what they have done. Look at the money lost of the people don't have insurance I mean one of them I new and I don't think they had insurance so what they out on all their things. Memories that can never be replaced pictures lost everything. So take up for them they deserve the maximum sentence. 60 plus years what I heard so there ya go boys hope the fires where 6 a life times worth of fun cause prison is gonna be your life time of fun.
  4. laurijp
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    laurijp - October 31, 2013 1:22 pm
    What a shame!! Can't they find anything better to do with their time than to start fires just to go back and fight them themselves? Think of the lives that were at stake just because they wanted to be heroes by putting out fires ( that they started never the less). GEEZE!!
  5. ktrain 50
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    ktrain 50 - October 28, 2013 2:56 pm
    Blasterrat1- there are bad apples in almost every barrel of apples and I don't care what a persons job is criminals come from all walks of life and always have and always will. But then you must acknowledge there are truly educated people out there who do really good works and there are people that are so educated they can't even tie their shoes so to speak, like making horrible decisions and shoving things down a person throat because they are in a position of authority.
  6. blasterrat1
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    blasterrat1 - October 28, 2013 2:26 pm
    I'm pretty sure restitution will be a part of any disposition in our Courts. Just that the owners will be last in line to get it. If they get it at all that is!
  7. OLDTIMENCFAN
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    OLDTIMENCFAN - October 28, 2013 11:37 am
    One of the pieces of property that was set belonged to a friend of mine, and a couple of months ago he got notice that it needs to be cleaned up, so on top of the loss of the property, now he is slated with the clean up of the property. I think these men need to have to pay for that, and not the owner. I know these men, and I feel sorry for the families, but they did not tell them to go out and do this, least they confessed to the crimes, now they need to serve the time.
  8. blasterrat1
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    blasterrat1 - October 28, 2013 9:36 am
    Kyrain 50: I agree that the alledged actions of the accused should not in any way reflect poorly upon other members of the Fire dept. As far as rash judgements,my level of education or your degree in Fire Science? One needs none of that to know where to look for suspects in these type of cases. It is simple common knowledge that when you have a series of arson fires combined with a mostly volunteer fire dept there is an existing probability it could be one or more of the volunteers responsible for them. Seems there have been several cases where volunteers are responsible for arson fires. Thankfully there are those who do take serving on a volunteer dept seriously. Those like yourself perhaps. For them we citizens are indebted too and depend on for Fire services. I only ask from you that you acknowledge imperfection. That with all the good from those who serve us, there are still a few bad apples amongst them. Simple fact Ktrain not rocket science. My commen sense opinion.
  9. gman
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    gman - October 27, 2013 6:57 pm
    ktrain I am sorry I should have said IF you were mad about it then you would be mad at a lot of us. I didn't mean to assume you would be mad, I was just commenting on Rat's post and didn't think my post through.
  10. airforceretired
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    airforceretired - October 27, 2013 1:33 pm
    Time will tell.... END. OF. STORY. If my own child set a fire for what ever reason, would have to pay the piper. Elementary Watkins!
  11. ktrain 50
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    ktrain 50 - October 27, 2013 7:40 am
    pplneedtomindtheybusiness- My intent is not to belittle you or your family or to cause you pain here but they did confess to State and Local officials in detail, and you are related by family marriage. I know that when thing go catawampus in a persons world that people want to naturally stick up for family or relatives, loved ones or sister and brother in law. The interesting thing here is the fires stopped after the police interviewed several fire fighters.

    These two or end up three guys here wanted the thrill of fighting fire, run the lights and sirens basically a adrenalin rush here, there could have been a real call where someone's life was on the line or lose their home when the fire department is fighting a fire that should not have happened. There are vehicle accidents involving injuries and deaths from Fire Departments responding to calls these guys better be counting their blessings that there were no injuries or deaths related to these fire.
  12. luckygirl
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    luckygirl - October 27, 2013 2:52 am
    PPLNEEDTOMINDTHEYBUSSNINESS: You have got to be joking. Please tell me you're joking!! You count this as simply 'a mistake'?? These guys didn't think how their family would feel, it's not us! If one of my loved ones commits a crime I will expect them to pay for it! Arson is not a mistake! It's these EX-firefighters that need to get a life, not the people that simply read about their crimes!!
    Maybe you should calm down and point your finger in the right direction, at those that commit a crime, not those that just read about it.
  13. small town mom
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    small town mom - October 26, 2013 9:00 pm
    Dont really care whose related to who on here, they were both fricking who deserve the maximum penalty that can be given. They jeopardized so many people. It goes beyond being stupid or making a mistake. Especially when you call out on your other job thats just as dangerous as being a fire fighter. Hope HE remembers all the con jobs inmates pull Im sure It will come in handy when he gets to prison. Just saying!
  14. pplneedtomindtheybussniness
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    pplneedtomindtheybussniness - October 26, 2013 8:32 pm
    I'm not realated to either of them. But my sister & brother in law and pretty much there whole.side of the family is.so I know dale pretty well. But im sticking up for them bc everyone loves to run their mouths when they cannot defend themselves but if They were out not a word would be said. Thanks like I said enjoy ur day
  15. funnyhow
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    funnyhow - October 26, 2013 5:49 pm
    This is beyond a mistake. This is sheer disrespect, selfish, ignorant stupidity. Setting fires to other people's property, potentially causing harm to other people. Instead of defending them, go ask wtf they were thinking, and ask for an apology for embarrassing their family and friends.
  16. ktrain 50
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    ktrain 50 - October 26, 2013 8:30 am
    pplneedtomindtheybusiness- If you are related to one or both of these guys I am sorry that a member of your family done what they done! They will have court hearings and pay for their mistakes just like Blasterrat1 did a few years ago, but if they do as they are supposed to do when this is all over they can put this all behind them and move on with their lives. They probably will never be on another fire department again because they showed they can't be trusted. And I know what it's like when a family member does something wrong, I have 2 relatives in prison now and not happy about it but they must pay for what they done as well as any other person should, it does hurt but the feelings you are feeling are the same as the firemen are feeling too loss of trust and feeling your extend family member stabbed you in the back by going against what they all stand for.
  17. 4whatitswurth
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    4whatitswurth - October 26, 2013 5:39 am
    I agree people make mistakes. This is far beyond making a mistake, this Is sheer stupidity. Had they done this only once, you might call it a mistake. To start these fires then head to the fire house to wait for the call isn't a mistake, there is something seriously wrong with that. This is the people's business, what if it had been your house? Would you be so quick to defend their actions then? I think not! Everyone is entitled to their opinions, even you pplneedtomindtheybussiness, perhaps time spent praying for these young men is better than bad mouthing others for their opinions.
  18. airforceretired
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    airforceretired - October 26, 2013 5:06 am
    People need tp need to mind their own business....then there would be No BLOGS!
    Sometimes I cannot believe my eyes.

    Meanwhile, time will tell will tell. I also wonder how many local fires are SET for insurance?




  19. blasterrat1
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    blasterrat1 - October 26, 2013 12:47 am
    Not a mistake! Instead a choice apparently made five different times! Of which at any point they could've made a better choice. They make a plan,drive to the location,carry out the plan five different times,and you call it a mistake!!!! Pitifull.
  20. ktrain 50
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    ktrain 50 - October 25, 2013 9:46 pm
    Blasterrat1 & gman - Why would I be mad? I said a long time ago when fires are set in buildings with no utilities it's either a firefighter or someone who wants to be on a fire department, the reason is they don't want to burn a structure down that someone lives in or getting a innocent home owner or child killed. They have a some scruples but not a lot, the thing that is the pits here it reflects on all the hard work done by all the good volunteers in this county. This was an isolated incident here these three, to the rest of the good volunteer firefighters on Park Hills I sure am sorry hope this does not turn peoples opinion on all the good work you all have done. Last thing here Blasterrat1 and gman, I have a degree in Fire Science which includes Fire Investigation I keep an open mind when looking at things, I don't jump into rash judgment's when looking at something, all I have ever asked Blasterrat1 to o is make comments on any subject from an educated stand point
  21. pplneedtomindtheybussniness
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    pplneedtomindtheybussniness - October 25, 2013 8:21 pm
    So u guys that are bad mouthing have never made a mistake? You guys are so disrespectful. Get a life in stead of.downing others. Forreal. If one of uns have never made a mistake then well talk. But lay money down all of u have. And have been given more than one chance. So how about how the family feels?? When ur guys family or loved one commits a crime ill be doing the same thing to u. Habe a great day
  22. leftout
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    leftout - October 25, 2013 6:31 pm
    Wonder if they have been watching Chicago fire? I can't believe that firefighters would be so stupid to set the fires then go work them! What would happened it someone got hurt?! My nephew is on the PH FD and really "burns" me that something could have happened to him or any of the other fire fighters or homes/people next to the fires they set! What ever they get they deserve and no "deals" for them releasing info on others!
  23. gman
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    gman - October 25, 2013 5:49 pm
    Ktrain will be mad at a lot of us Rat because me and the wife thought the same thing.
  24. offtrack
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    offtrack - October 25, 2013 5:25 pm
    I still have a lot of respect for fire fighters and the police. As horrible as we think this is, they feel it more because it is a true betrayal. These men involved should be made to go to schools and apologize to the children. I know Farmington always has a safety day where all branches of civil servants come to reach out to the kids. Assuring them that they will always be there to protect them. That they truly are the good guys, someone to look up to and respect. Sure, they were all vacant houses, but they weren't all bordering vacant properties. How many kids now have nightmares from seeing these fires? I know my son was worried about our house the first time he saw a house on fire, but was calmed down when the firefighters arrived. These men deserve the max sentence with enormous fines on top with public apologies and apologies to the children. Thats my opinion anyway.
  25. WorkerBee
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    WorkerBee - October 25, 2013 5:21 pm
    What about the fire on B Highway in Doe Run. Was that one of theirs, too?
  26. Joe_63640
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    Joe_63640 - October 25, 2013 3:25 pm
    - ok... I am curious...speculating in the light of these developments - I am *not* accusing- or implying anything at all. Over the last few years, we in St. Francois county have seen a large number of Bar fires - often rural " honky tonk" kind of places...I have not heard of any arrests/convictions in any of these - I am wondering if the State Fire Marshall's office will take these (seemingly) unsolved arsons into account as this goes forward through investigation ?
  27. Unfairpractice
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    Unfairpractice - October 25, 2013 1:20 pm
    It is commonly known on the west coast that fires are started by fire fighters for it is a form of job security for them. They start fires because they will earn money when called in to fight the fire where otherwise they would be sitting around waiting and not earning income. The devil is always in the details. Other illogical reasons people start fires are known and most are illegal people need to be vigilant to stop and report arson to authority's.
  28. wildfire
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    wildfire - October 25, 2013 12:54 pm
    Well this should be interesting as it plays out.
  29. Tired of local polotics
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    Tired of local polotics - October 25, 2013 12:14 pm
    If they are found guilty no leanancy should be shown at all. If convicted they should forced to do the maximum sentence BECAUSE THEY KNOW BETTER!!!!! No deals, no probation, and no lesser chargers should even be considered. They put other firefighters in danger of getting hurt or worse!!!
  30. Sarget
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    Sarget - October 25, 2013 11:59 am
    Pretty bad when you can't trust the firefighters.
  31. blasterrat1
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    blasterrat1 - October 25, 2013 11:44 am
    This wont sit well with Ktrain. But I Had a gut feeling all along about these fires. Everytime I examined them I kept coming up with the thought of. It could be a member of a local Fire Dept.!!!! One clue was the Fires seemed to all be in the area covered by Park Hills Fire Dept. or where Park Hills would provide mutual aid. Aside from the few suspect fires in Washington County.
  32. hapymamy
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    hapymamy - October 25, 2013 11:41 am
    I said when it first started that it was a fire fighter doing it. We had a similar case years ago with one setting brush fires. Sad..it makes the rest of the true fire fighters look bad.
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