Indianapolis man charged in fatal arson - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Indianapolis man charged in fatal arson

Updated:
Gary Allen was arrested for the South State Avenue arson. Gary Allen was arrested for the South State Avenue arson.

INDIANAPOLIS - The man arrested for setting a fire that killed two people now faces two counts of murder and three counts of arson.

Gary Allen, 32, was arrested Friday for an arson at 1119 South State Avenue early Tuesday morning. He confessed the crime to arson investigators, but said he didn't want to hurt anyone.

Two people, 63-year-old Anna Richards and 47-year-old Jerry Richards, died in the fire. Their deaths have been ruled to be homicides.

In court papers released Monday, investigators say Allen admitted lighting a mattress and thought firefighters would be able to put out the fire quickly because the fire station was close by.

Allen told investigators he knew three people were asleep and admitted he watched the fire from a window until he was satisfied it was burning.

Gary Allen will make his first court appearance Tuesday morning.

"He was actually one of the people that, at first, we thought, was a victim. He was in the house at the time of the fire. He actually called one of the victims his mother," said IFD Commander Cliff Johnson.

Johnson said Allen even attempted to rescue the victims at the scene.

"It was, I don't know what to say, like a horror movie you couldn't wake up from. All you could do was just stand there and watch," Allen said in an interview at the scene Tuesday.

Allen, 32, reportedly started the fire after a dispute with his family's landlord. He claimed Tuesday the landlord was responsible and that he and a friend had seen a man in an alley by the house the night before.

"I hope the police find out he done this and I hope they put him in prison for the rest of his life," a visibly upset Allen said at the scene.

"He did not intend to burn the house down. He just wanted to cause some damage because the family was being evicted," Johnson said Friday.

Investigators say when they talked to Allen, his story just didn't add up.

"His story was inconsistent to us, from what he gave to the investigators when they first arrived and also what he stated to the news media," Johnson said.

Neighbors were shocked to find out who is accused of starting the deadly fire.

"Starting a fire like this and hurting someone like he did, I just don't understand," a neighbor said.

"About the dirtiest trick I've ever seen happen," said another neighbor.

The fire was determined to be arson Friday evening.

Investigators say Allen has a history of setting fires when he's upset, but do not believe he is connected to seven other fires Tuesday that have also been declared arsons. The investigation into those fires is ongoing.

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