Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Former market manager arrested in arsons
A policeman said Earl
Adams was 'tending to the fires' as well as fueling them with butane lighters.
By TIM YOVICH
LEAVITTSBURG A former manager of Young's Market tried to burn down the business three times so that he could collect insurance money to live with his girlfriend-turned-government informant, according to a federal document.
Earl Arden Adams Jr. was taken into custody Tuesday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on a federal arson charge.
An ATF spokesman at the agency's Youngstown office said Adams is in custody awaiting a detention hearing. He declined to say where Adams was arrested or where he is being held.
An affidavit filed by ATF Agent John Smerglia tells a tale of Adams cheating on his wife, repeatedly torching the business for insurance money, and telling his girlfriend about it.
In 2005, Adams was living with his wife, Sandra Adams, and their two children in an apartment above the store at 55 S. Leavitt Road in Warren Township, which he helped manage with her. They were paid, Adams told an investigator, about $8,000 monthly. During an interview of Adams by Smerglia, Youngstown arson investigator Kevin Johnson and Warren arson investigator Jeff Koehn, Adams said that he and his wife wanted by buy the business from their landlord, Cyrus Ghassab, for about $50,000.
Adams told the investigator, the affidavit says, they hoped to have the building paid off by August 2005.
Adams went on to say that he was having an extramarital affair with a woman who lived in a separate apartment above the store. As it turned out, she would become a government informant.
The informant told Smerglia that Adams wanted to leave his wife, burn down Young's to collect the money, and live with her and his two children.
The first arson was July 21, 2005; the second on July 25, 2005; the third on Aug. 8, 2005.
The informant indicated that Adams still owed money for the building, wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and didn't care about the apartment residents living above the store.
After the July 25 fire, William McKinley told Smerglia that he was visiting his former sister-in-law, who was one of the residents living above Young's. McKinley said a female friend and the friend's 6-month-old were also staying at the apartment. His former sister-in-law was frightened because of the arson fire four days earlier.
The baby was on a monitor due to health problems. When McKinley noticed the fire, he rescued the infant by grabbing the baby and monitor and jumping out of a second-floor window, injuring his knee.
During the third fire Aug. 8, according to the affidavit, Patrol Officer Daniel Peterson of the Warren Township Police Department was at Young's while it was burning. Sandra Adams told Peterson that her husband was inside the burning store.
Peterson couldn't get a response when he yelled for Adams. He saw several fires burning in and around the checkout counter at the front of the store with Adams crouched behind the counter.
It appeared, Peterson said, that Adams was "tending to the fires" as well as fueling them with butane lighters. The lighters were exploding because of the heat.
After the fire was extinguished by Peterson, Adams continued to re-enter the store and was threatened with arrest if he didn't stop trying to go back inside.
On Aug. 25, 2005, or about two weeks after the third arson, Sandra Adams died of a gunshot wound of the head. The Trumbull County Coroner's Office ruled the death a suicide.
According to the document, an argument between Adams and his wife turned violent enough for their children to call 911. The call was monitored by an Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher and recorded. At one point in the argument, Adams can be heard asking his wife for the keys to the store so he could burn it down.