Two Perry men, one a new member of the Perry Fire Department, have been charged by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office in an arson investigation into an early-morning fire that destroyed a house in rural Perry June 22.
Corey Steadman, 19, of 2362 X Ave., Perry, a probationary member of the fire department, and Marcus Schmitz, 19, 708 First St., Perry, were each charged with second-degree arson, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, said Chief Deputy Jack Williams with Greene County. The charges were filed Friday.
Steadman was released on his own recognizance, and officials are waiting to serve the arrest warrant on Schmitz until his condition improves from the burns he allegedly received while setting the fire improve, Williams said. Both are 2012 graduates of Perry Community High School.
Perry Fire Chief Chris Hinds said Steadman, who joined the fire department in February, has been suspended until the outcome of the case is known. Corey Steadman’s father, Richard "Richie" Steadman, has been on the fire department for about seven years, Hinds said. Richard Steadman also works for the city as sextant at Violet Hill, Perry’s cemetery.
Hinds said Corey has been a reliable and responsive member of the fire department.
Williams said the investigation alleges the two men poured gasoline down the steps of the house into the basement, and then Schmitz lit the gas on fire. The fire then flashed back, burning him. He was hospitalized, but is now home.
The fire was reported at 6:19 a.m. June 22, at a house owned by John Muir at 2250 X Avenue near the Greene/Dallas county line northwest of Perry, Williams said.
Muir lives in the area, but the house that burned was empty. Firefighters from the Rippey and Grand Junction fire departments responded.
Greene County became involved in the investigation after several people who said they were witnesses came into the Perry Police Department Saturday night to report what they had seen.