Crime

Pedophile Dies In Fire On Day Of His Trial

| by Zara Zhi
Thomas OwensThomas Owens

A Michigan man indicted for a sex offense was killed in a house fire on May 16 -- the very same day he was supposed to face trial.

Authorities say 69-year-old Thomas Owens was inside his house on Stone School Road in Pittsfield Township when the blaze started. Owens escaped the fire and was taken to University of Michigan Hospital for severe burns, but died the next day on May 17, reports WJBK.

Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township detectives were at the scene to drench hot spots and conclude the cause of the blaze, according to Michigan Live.

Owens' trial was expected to start on the day his house set on fire. In July, he was charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct -- all deriving from one incident in January 2007.

The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office filed a complaint against Owens on July 27, 2015 and Michigan State Police apprehended him with a warrant on Aug. 31, according to Michigan Live.

Two of his first-degree sex offenses involved a victim under 13 years of age; one count of Owen’s third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge involved a victim between the ages of 13 and 15; and one count of the second-degree sex offense involved a victim under 13 years of age.

The blaze obliterated Owen’s two-story residence and the house was demolished later on the same day. "The home is totally destroyed," said Ann Arbor Fire battalion chief Randy Menard. "It's a complete loss."

According to Michigan Live, Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason said officials are investigating the cause of the fire, but reportedly said the department found it to be “suspicious.”

Authorities have not yet released the details of Owen’s sexual offenses.

In September 2013, a house fire killed another man believed to be a pedophile from New York state. Neighbors told Rochester First that the man who lived in the home was a pedophile. His name is listed under the New York State sex offender registry list as a Level 3 sex offender.

Sources: WJBK, Michigan Live, Rochester First / Photo credit: WJBK

Was the house fire an accident?
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