Crime News

Vergennes car fire results in attempted murder charges

VERGENNES — Vergennes police on Wednesday arrested a 28-year-old New Jersey man on suspicion of attempted murder and arson following a pre-dawn fire at a duplex and nearby vehicles in the Booth Woods neighborhood in the city’s southern end.

In Addison Superior Court, criminal division, Eddy Santiago of Clifton Park, N.J.,  on Thursday pleaded innocent to four counts of attempted murder, one count of first-degree arson, three counts of third-degree arson, and one count of unlawful mischief, according to city police

Police said they and the Vergennes Fire Department responded to a report of a vehicle and home on fire at 49 Booth Woods a few minutes after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

According to a police press release, they found one vehicle “entirely engulfed in flames,” while a second vehicle had damage to its front end and interior. Meanwhile, police said the nearby duplex had “sustained significant damage to its siding, which had melted due to the intense heat generated by the car fire.” Firefighters put out the blaze.

Authorities said there were four people inside the home at the time of the fire.

Police said a witness told them, “Santiago had told the owner of the house he would burn his house down, and the neighbors’ (houses).”

Police also allege that on Tuesday before the fire Santiago had slashed the tires of one of the vehicles damaged in the fire.

Middlebury police, working on a request from Vergennes police, took Santiago into custody without incident around 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday after pulling his vehicle over heading south on Route 30 in Sudbury. Santiago was lodged at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Center pending a Thursday arraignment at Addison Superior Court’s Criminal Division in Middlebury. Judge Thomas Carlson set bail at $5,000.

Vergennes police were assisted in this case by the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; the Middlebury Police Department; Vermont State Police; and the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office.

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