A Mansfield man was arrested earlier this month on attempted murder and arson charges for allegedly starting a fire in his home while his stepdaughter was inside.
Authorities allege that Chad A. Cook, 51, of 1065 Timbercliff Drive, started the fire on April 21 at his home at 1065 Timbercliff Drive.
He was charged and taken to Richland County Jail, where he was released on bail, according to authorities.
Cook’s 23-year-old daughter, Jordan Keeler, was inside the house at the time of the fire, trying to sleep, Richland County Sheriff’s Office reports. I managed to escape and call 911.
The 96-page report from the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, it’s not clear why Cook, who works for the Lexington Village Parks Department, started the fire.
Representatives said their investigation showed that Chad Cook put valuables in a storage unit in Lexington before the fire, including a firearm, an AR-15 assault rifle and valuable football helmets. Cook registered the unit in his stepdaughter’s name, and told Jordan that opening the storage unit would help her build her credit, according to the report. The report said she used a Chad Cook credit card to pay for the storage unit.
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Fire day, schedule
Chad’s wife, Katherine, had left for work that day around eight in the morning, and Keeler had put her sister Morgan, 14, on the bus.
Marshal Jason Whaley, in the report, said Chad Cook was seen on a security camera entering the house at 9:52 a.m., staying there for six minutes and leaving the house at 9:58 a.m.
Wally said that within seconds of Cook leaving, smoke was seen on camera coming from the back of the dorm.
Jordan Keeler called 911 at 10:02 a.m. that day.
Chad Cook began clutching his chest at the site of the fire and was taken to the hospital by the EMS squad.
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Firefighters report the cause of the fire
According to the report of the fire official, the cause of the fire was arson.
The fire broke out in the basement of the house next to a steam bath close to a wall that was open. It was just a stud wall with an electrical receptacle attached to it.
“The evidence clearly shows that homeowner Chad Cook entered the house … Chad used an open flame to ignite combustible materials (cardboard and wood panels) in the basement near the base of the stairs,” the report said. “The use of a liquid accelerator cannot be ruled out….”
Jordan was in her room watching YouTube with the dogs when she heard crackling and cracking coming from the basement, the Sheriff reports.
Facts revealed about the case
On Thursday, Sheriff Captain Donald Zener said the investigation was a collaboration between major crimes in the mayor’s office, the Washington Fire Department and the state’s fire chief’s office.
At first, Cook told detectives that he came home to get his lunch box, which he had forgotten that morning on the kitchen counter. Neighbors’ security video cameras showed Cook leaving his home shortly before smoke and fire appeared coming from the back of the house, the sheriff’s office reports.
Employees at his job contradicted Cook, saying they saw him putting his lunch box in the fridge that morning when he came to work, according to the report.
Chad Cook gave authorities different stories about what happened, from smoking him and getting rid of a cigarette butt that may have started a fire, to a different story about not knowing how the fire started.
He even said he didn’t come home that morning.
During the investigation, he asked his wife not to speak to investigators or the insurance company.
He confessed to his wife that he caused the fire by smoking cigarettes in the basement. A report said he hired a lawyer when investigators began asking questions.
Chad Cook was brought to trial June 13 in Mansfield Municipal Court for arson. On June 17, his case was referred to a grand jury, and the bond continued. He will be in possession of no firearms, and must return his keys to the village of Lexington to the mayor’s office.
He was ordered to appear before the Richland County General Court of Appeals at 1 p.m. on November 29 to charge him, according to court documents.