Resident in shock after neighbor’s arrest in Hamilton firefighter death

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Resident in shock after neighbor’s arrest in Hamilton firefighter death

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Lester Parker, the owner of this home on Pater Avenue, has been arrested in the deadly arson fire that killed Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman in December 2015. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

A neighbor of Lester Parker, the man arrested in the arson fire that killed Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman, was shocked when she learned the news this afternoon.

Linda Wroblewski, who lives on Pater Avenue, held a hand to her mouth three times after being told of Parker’s indictment.

Parker, 66, is facing aggravated arson and murder charges, according to the Hamilton Police Department.

Parker is the owner of the Pater Avenue home where Wolterman was killed fighting a fire on Dec. 28, 2015.

“Wow. That is crazy,” Wroblewski told this news outlet.

She called Parker an acquaintance she knows from passing on the street. He has medical conditions and is bitter, she said, but she still can’t imagine him being a part of the arson.

“As with all indictments, the defendant, Lester Parker, is presumed to be innocent until guilt is proved in a court of law,” Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said in a statement.

The fact that the fire was arson scares Wroblewski, and she said the death of Wolterman that resulted infuriates her.

“I hope if he is guilty they throw the book at the (expletive),” she said. “We lost a fireman in that, and that wasn’t fair. I mean, that guy, his wife lost her husband.”

“If he’s guilty, I pray to God he goes to jail and they never let him out again,” Wroblewski said.

The murder charge carries a prison term of 15 years to life and a $15,000 fine. The aggravated arson charge carries a maximum prison term of 11 years and a $20,000 fine, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Lester and Bertha Parker’s two-story house caught fire about 1 a.m. Dec. 28. Wolterman fell through the floor into the basement of the house.

The fire was discovered by a police officer investigating a security alarm, according to police and fire scanner traffic reviewed by the Journal-News. The police officer told dispatchers there was smoke coming from an open cellar door.

The Parkers left their residence for a 45th wedding anniversary trip to Las Vegas just hours before the alarm in the home alerted police dispatchers.

“Heavy smoke coming out of it … too heavy to get close,” the officer says in scanner chatter.

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