SHENANDOA H-- After an early morning fire on January 19 damaged a row of houses on West Center Street, investigators believed they were dealing was an accident.
However on Friday, Chevonne Martinson, 28, was charged with intentionally setting the fire. She faces a list of criminal counts including arson, criminal mischief, and recklessly endangering 9 people.
The fire started at 432 West Center Street and spread to unoccupied homes on either side. Two more homes on the block sustained very minor smoke damage, one of them belonging to Lenard Selvocki.
"They should be punished, severely. Severely. To create a catastrophe, that's a catastrophe," he said.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by Newswatch 16, witnesses tell police that the accused woman argued with her boyfriend before smashing perfume bottles and setting clothing and pictures on fire that belonged to her female partner. The home's owner also told police that the night before the fire she stated on numerous occasions, "I'll burn your house down and no one will have a place to stay."
While several neighbors on the block said they were familiar with the owners, Ann and Richard Morton, Selvocki says he was concerned by around half a dozen young people who appeared to also be living in the house.
"In and out, in and out, I would see them. Going in and out. And all that at different times."
Neighbor Karen Rettzo says she is relieved the alleged culprit has been caught.
"Yeah I'm glad. They wont be able to do it anymore."
Selvocki adds, "They should get a sentence for 10 or 15 years in jail. That's my opinion. To do damage like that to human beings and to the properties. I mean that is no good."