March 21, 2013

Palmyra couple charged in 2007 home fire

They're charged with causing the fire to collect insurance, but it's not clear what sparked the investigation five years after the incident.

By DOUG HARLOW Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — More than five years after their Palmyra home was damaged by fire, the couple who lived in the house has been charged with arson.

click image to enlarge

Firefighters from several departments extinguish fire that destroyed the Turner home on the Libby Hill Road in Palmyra in 2007.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Carissa Jo Turner

Contributed photo

Trevor Louis Turner, 41, and Carissa Jo Turner, 38, both of 19 Libby Hill Road, were arrested Wednesday on a warrant after indictments by a Somerset County grand jury. They are charged with starting or causing the fire to collect the insurance, according to court documents.

Arson is a class A felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Fire was reported at the Turners' two-story, gambrel-roof home about 1 p.m. Sept. 17, 2007. No one was home when the fire was reported. Flames already were coming through the walls and windows when firefighters arrived.

Edward Archer, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office who was in charge of the case, referred all questions Thursday to the Somerset County District Attorney's office. He would not say what led to the charges 5 1/2 years after the fire or how evidence leading to the arrest and indictment was gathered.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said details of the investigation will not be discussed until the couple goes to trial. She said it was a difficult case to investigate and that the Turners were fully cooperative with the investigation.

Sgt. Timothy York, of the State Fire Marshal's Office, who supervised the investigation in 2007, said at the time that extensive damage to the home made finding a cause all but impossible.

At the time of the fire, Newport Fire Chief Fred Hickey declined to estimate the damage but said it was substantial.

The Morning Sentinel reported at the time that Trevor Turner had left two of his four dogs inside the house. Hickey said someone had freed the dogs and started removing bicycles, motorcycles and other equipment from a nearby shed when Turner arrived.

The family had lived in the home for 13 years. Trevor Turner said at the time that he was unsure how the fire started, but he recalled a problem with a circuit breaker in recent weeks.

"Whenever it rained a little bit, it would always trip," he said.

Turner had left work at North Country Builders earlier in the day. He picked up his wife at home around noon to go to Hartland. The couple had been in Hartland for less than an hour when they started back home, according to the newspaper story.

"We were coming up the road and I saw (the fire)," Trevor Turner said at the time. "The sky was filled with a black smoke."

The Turners are set to be arraigned today in Superior Court in Skowhegan. They remain held at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison on $10,000 bond each, according to a jail intake worker.

They are scheduled to meet with a defense attorney and a prosecutor at 11 a.m. and to go before a judge at 1:30 p.m. via video conference from the jail.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

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