A Butler County grand jury will now consider the cases of three men facing multiple charges in connection with a fire that destroyed a garage and damaged three houses on Woodside Boulevard.
Trevor Skief, 19, and Wesley Hudgel, 19, both of Woodside Boulevard, are charged with three counts of aggravated arson, one count of arson, one count of disruption of public services, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of intimidation. James Thompson, 19, also of Woodside Boulevard, is charged with three counts of arson, arson and disrupting public services.
The men shot a flare gun into the window of the garage in the 1203 block of Woodside Boulevard on July 5, according to a police report.
During Monday’s preliminary hearing in Middletown Municipal Court, Police Detective Steve Winters testified there had been an ongoing dispute in the neighborhood involving racial slurs directed at Jacqueline Moore, the owner of the residence where the garage was destroyed.
“There was an ongoing situation in the neighborhood with people picking on her,” Winters said.
A previous case is pending against Hudgel for allegedly breaking into Moore’s house and stealing a vehicle title and air conditioning unit, according to Winters.
Hudgel was interviewing for a job at a Franklin business on July 5 when Skief and Thompson stole three flare guns from a nearby Walmart, Winters said.
“We pulled the tape from the store,” Winters said.
He said the video was also posted on a neighbor’s Facebook page, but has since been taken down.
The detective said the three men planned for the flare to be shot through a window of Moore’s house, “but Thompson refused to fire into the house.”
Hudgel, who was driving the van, then backed up, and Thompson fired the flare into the garage, Winters said.
Visiting Judge Hal Suderman found sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury for consideration.
Moore and her family attended the hearing and said afterward that the violence has to stop.
She said some of those involved have harassed her for about a month.
Moore has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years.
She added adults in the area had their children make racial slurs against her and her friends.
“Little bitty kids, probably don’t even know their ABC’s …. I just want it to stop. This is crazy. It needs to be stopped.”