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3 Clarion County men charged in vacant house fire in Redbank

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

REDBANK — Three Clarion County men are being charged with arson in connection to a fire that destroyed a vacant house last May in Redbank, Armstrong County.

According to court documents, James D. McCauley, 24, of New Bethlehem, Austin M. Blose, 21, and Cody E. Troup, 20, both of Fairmount City, are accused of allegedly using spray paint and a lighter to torch the two-story structure at 195 Copenhavers Road shortly before 5 a.m. on May 12.

Hawthorn Fire Co. Chief Mike Troup, told investigators his company arrived at the scene to find nobody near the fully engulfed building and believed the cause of the fire to be suspicious. Trooper Luke Nelson, a fire investigator with state police Troop D, Butler, said there is no apparent relation between Chief Mike Troup and suspect Cody Troup.

Nelson said the case remained open nearly a year before a break came in February.

“I received a tip from an individual acquainted with (the suspects) and it started the whole snowball effect,” Nelson said.

According to the police criminal complaint, witnesses said McCauley, Blose and Troup were in a vehicle with two other people that morning when McCauley allegedly presented the idea of setting fire to the house.

“When all three were charged, it wasn't clear who played what role,” said Nelson.

“But the stories now seem to suggest that (Blose and Troup) were more onlookers than active participants.”

The other two people who were allegedly in the vehicle do not currently face any charges.

Court documents state that Troup's ex-girlfriend told police that he had admitted to setting the fire the morning after the incident and allegedly drove her to the scene of the fire on several occasions to point it out to her.

Another witness said that Blose also drove her back to the scene of the crime to show her the burned-down structure.

Authorities said the house, owned by Waneta L. Copenhaver, was destroyed and restitution will be due in an amount not yet determined.

All three suspects face charges of arson, criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing. McCauley was placed in Armstrong County Jail by District Judge James Owen on Wednesday. He was released the following day on $10,000 bond. Blose and Troup were released on their own recognizance.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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