Man indicted on arson charges accused of starting fire with wife, her children in home

A Middletown man accused of starting a fire that spread to a house with his wife and her two children inside has been indicted on felony charges.

Maston Leamon Murphy III, 36, was indicted by a Butler County grand jury last week on four counts of aggravated arson and one count of arson, all felonies.

Murphy is accused of setting his wife’s Jeep on fire. Flames spread to the house while she and her children were sleeping inside.

Murphy, who confessed to starting the fire that included pouring gasoline on the Jeep, was arrested by Middletown police on Jan. 1, a few hours after the fire, according to police records and fire officials.

ExploreMiddletown man charged after allegedly setting fire while wife, her two daughters inside home

His wife, Brittani Murphy, 30, said in January she was sleeping at 6:30 a.m. New Year’s Day in her Baltimore Street home when she heard a loud knock at her front door. A neighbor told her flames were visible. She went to the bathroom and saw flames shooting through the window, she said.

She quickly got her two daughters, ages 8 and 6, out of the house. The three suffered minor smoke inhalation, according to the fire report.

The fire was “pretty terrifying,” Brittani Murphy said.

A Jeep she was borrowing from her mother also was ruined in the fire, she said.

Lt. Frank Baughman from the Middletown Division of Fire said two residences in the 1900 block of Baltimore Street were damaged. The home where the Murphys lived sustained $20,000 in damages to the property and $10,000 to the contents. Those estimates don’t include the two Jeeps, Baughman said.

Murphy remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $430,000 cash or surety bond. His trial was set for April 23 by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth.

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