02/12/09 — Disabled victims hit by arson for second time

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Disabled victims hit by arson for second time

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on February 12, 2009 1:46 PM

An arsonist targeted the home a family of disabled and elderly people for a second time on Wednesday night, authorities said.

One of the victims is blind, another is disabled and mostly confined to a bed and they live with their elderly mother, authorities said.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said he could not understand anyone would target the occupants of the home, Jacqueline Oates, 51, Blondell Oates, 60, and their older mother, Mamie Oates, authorities and son-in-law Anthony D. Hines said.

Winders said money

"I've been authorized to give out a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the individuals responsible for this," the sheriff said. "We don't get it, why anyone would do this."

The women have been the target of two attempts to burn down their home, and threatening messages have been found, Capt. Tom Effler said.

The threats contain accusations that baffle authorities, the Sheriff's Office captain said.

"Some threatening messages have been written to this residence, which makes us think that whoever is doing this has got the wrong residence," Effler said. "These people are ... not the caliber of people to be involved in what the accusations say."

The first arson attempt on the women's home at 319 Brentwood Drive was on Feb. 6, when someone set fire to their wooden door.

A passerby noticed the flames on the door around 6:30 a.m. that day, according to Hines.

The fire was quickly extinguished after some damage to the door, Sgt. Joe Smith said.

Then, on Wednesday night around 10 p.m., the fire department was dispatched again, Effler said.

This time, the fire was under a carport, the captain said.

"A person was driving down the road. He went to a neighbor's house, called 911, and then went to the house and was able to extinguish the fire with a ... hose," Effler said.

The fire damaged an outer wall of the house, parts of the carport and the bottom of a storm door, and damages were estimated at $1,100, Effler said.

Arson investigators Sgt. Bob Golimowski and Lt. Shawn Harris have been assigned to the investigation, the captain said.

"There's no reason these people should be victimized," Effler said. "They're not involved in any questionable activity. They're just poor victims more than anything else."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 731-1481, or the Crime Stoppers hotline at 735-2255.