Punxsy Man Accused of Trying to Burn House Down with Woman, Children Inside Pleads Guilty to Arson, Related Charges

GASKILL TWP., Pa. (EYT) – A Punxsutawney man who attempted to light a house on fire in Gaskill Township recently entered a guilty plea in court.

Court documents indicate 48-year-old Walter Willis Foster Jr. pleaded guilty to the following charges on January 6:

– Arson-Inhabited Building or Structure, Felony 1
– Terroristic Threats With Intent To Terrorize Another, Misdemeanor 1
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 2

As a result of the plea agreement, the following charges were dismissed:

– Arson-Danger of Death or Bodily Injury, Felony 1
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2 (five counts)
– Harassment – Subject Other to Physical Contact, Summary

A sentencing date for the case has not yet been scheduled.

Foster is currently free after posting $50,000.00 monetary bail.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred at a Gaskill Township residence in late August.

According to a criminal complaint, around 3:05 p.m. on August 23, Punxsutawney-based State Police were dispatched to a residence on State Route 36 in Gaskill Township, Jefferson County, for a report of a domestic altercation after a 9-1-1 caller reported that Walter Willis Foster Jr. had attempted to light the residence on fire using a gasoline canister.

Police arrived around 3:19 p.m. and found that Foster had fled the scene through a heavily wooded area to the south of the residence.

According to the complaint, a known female victim told police she, a second victim, and three juvenile victims (ages 11, 9, and 3) all live at the residence where the incident occurred. The victim reported Foster, and the second victim had gotten into an argument which began to escalate, with Foster yelling obscenities and threatening, “I’ll burn down this f****** house.”

The victim told police Foster then went into the house and she followed him a short time later and then found him igniting a fire in the residence on the living room floor. She reported smoke was billowing out of the kitchen, and she found another fire had been lit in the kitchen trash can. She also told police she saw Foster attempting to ignite miscellaneous paperwork on fire on the television stand, according to the complaint.

The witness reported Foster then went outside, took a gasoline canister, and began pouring it on the vinyl siding of the house, the complaint continues.

The victim stated she was in fear for her life and for the safety of the children, who were also present in the home at the time, the complaint notes.

Police also spoke to a third witness at the scene, who stated she saw Foster pouring gasoline on the residence and overheard him saying he was going to “burn the f***** house down, I don’t care who’s in it.” The witness indicated she was frightened for the safety of the children and immediately called 9-1-1 and took the children to her own residence for protection, according to the complaint.

Foster was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline J. Mizerock at 7:25 p.m. on August 24.


Police Searching for Man Accused of Trying to Set Residence on Fire

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