MAD RIVER TWP. — An Enon man was arrested Thursday morning in the death of an 89-year-old woman after a fire last year at a transitional-care facility.
Cody Sutton, 19, has been charged with two counts of aggravated arson and one count of murder, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
About 120 residents were evacuated from the Dayspring of Miami Valley Health Care Center and Rehabilitation in Mad River Twp. the evening of Nov. 25 after a fire started in a storage area.
Investigators later discovered the blaze had two points of origin and was intentionally set, said Lt. Chris Clark of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
During the evacuation, 89-year-old Kathleen Hart suffered a cardiac episode. She was taken to Miami Valley Hospital, where she died that night.
Her death was ruled a homicide by the Montgomery County coroner’s office.
“Other significant conditions contributing to her death, but not resulting in the underlying cause, physical and emotional stress of structure fire,” the coroner’s report stated.
Surveillance footage reportedly shows Sutton outside the storage area moments before the fire broke out, but it took seven months for deputies to arrest him. Clark said they focused on Sutton as a suspect but waited for evidence to be processed before charging him.
Clark County grand jurors handed up a secret indictment Monday and a warrant was issued. The 19-year-old was taken into custody at his parents’ home in Enon without incident, Clark said. Sutton ignored questions as he was led in handcuffs to the Clark County Jail.
H.C. Spencer of Springfield, whose aunt was a resident at the facility during the fire, said he found the incident disturbing given how many people’s lives were put at risk.
“If he actually started that fire, he ought to be prosecuted for both causing the panic and doing what he did (and) costing a life,” Spencer said. “Murder is murder. I don’t care if you’re young or elderly.”
Matt Walters, facility administrator, said Sutton worked for Dayspring for about two months before the fire. Walters said Sutton passed all necessary background checks and there was no indication of “anything abnormal” until the blaze. Sutton was let go shortly after.
“(His arrest) was just kind of something we figured was coming,” Walters said. “I’m glad to see justice is being done, and it’s up to (the courts) from here to see what occurs.”
The facility was cleared of any safety issues and all systems were functioning properly, according to reports.
Sutton has no prior criminal history. An arraignment has not been set, according to court records. He’s being held in the Clark County Jail.
Staff Writer Katie Wedell contributed to this report
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