Reynoldsville Man Accused of Setting Fire Taken into Custody

REYNOLDSVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – A Reynoldsville man facing arson and child endangerment charges after he allegedly started a fire in the bedroom of a home where his wife and their two-month-old son live was taken into custody Tuesday night.

According to court documents, Reynoldsville Police Department filed criminal charges against 37-year-old Richard William Sipes, of Reynoldsville.

He was arraigned at 7:24 p.m. on January 16 in front of District Judge David Inzana on the following charges:

– Arson-Danger of Death or Bodily Injury, Felony 1, (two counts)
– Arson Endangering Property-Reckless Endangerment of Inhabited Buildings, Felony 2
– Risking Catastrophe, Felony 3
– Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 2

Unable to post $100,000.00 bail, Sipes was lodged in the Jefferson County Jail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 30, with Judge Inzana presiding.

Details of the Case:

According to a criminal complaint, Reynoldsville Police Officer Murray was called to a Grant Street residence around 11:36 p.m. on Thursday, January 4, for a domestic disturbance.

When Officer Murray arrived, the victim was waiting at the front door of the apartment holding her two-month-old son. She said “that (expletive) set my house on fire. Here, hold my baby, I have to make sure the fire is out.” Officer Murray said she told the victim she would check on the fire. The officer asked the victim who started the fire, and she said it was her husband, Richard Sipes and that he had run, according to the complaint.

When Officer Murray went upstairs to check the fire, she found it filled with smoke. She called Jefferson County 911 and told them to send a fire company. The victim stated there wasn’t anyone else in the apartment. Officer Murray then checked the baby for injuries, and he didn’t appear to have any.

The victim stated that she and Sipes had been fighting, he left, and then returned around 11:30 p.m. She said Sipes started to kick the door, so she opened it and told him to get his stuff and leave. The victim then took her baby upstairs where Sipes followed her and threw an ashtray at her, according to the complaint.

The victim said she grabbed her son and took him into the bathroom to make a bottle, and she heard Sipes lighting his Zippo lighter. The victim said she looked out and saw that Sipes had set their bedroom on fire. She said she ran downstairs and grabbed a fire extinguisher. When she started to go back upstairs, the victim said Sipes ran at her, so she hit him with the extinguisher and knocked him down. She said she hit him several times while he was down, so he couldn’t get back up, the complaint states.

The victim then went back upstairs, hid the baby, and put the fire out. The victim said that Sipes then came at her again, so she hit several more times with the extinguisher before he grabbed it from her and came at her, and then she kicked him. She said Sipes continued to come at her, but she got away and got into the baby’s room, blocked the door, and called 911 while Sipes continued to kick the door, trying to get in, according to the complaint.

When the victim heard the front door open and close, she checked to make sure he wasn’t inside the apartment. She looked out the peephole of the front door and saw Sipes standing there, so she wrapped the baby up in a blanket, grabbed a kitchen knife, and went out to the back porch until Officer Murray arrived, the complaint indicates.

The fire department arrived to make sure the fire was out. In one of the bedrooms was a TV that melted from the fire and the walls were black from the smoke. Also, on the floor was a tablet that was burned, and the room was covered with discharge from the fire extinguisher, according to the complaint.

In addition, the bedroom door to the baby’s room had a footprint on it where Sipes had allegedly kicked the door in. There was also a hole in the wall of the stairwell, the complaint states.

The victim called a friend to pick up the baby, and Chief Troy Bell arrived at the apartment. Officer Murray took the victim to the station to give a written statement, and Chief Bell stayed at the scene to look for Sipes. After the victim wrote her statement, Officer Murray had her call Sipes, which she did, but he refused to tell her where he was. The victim said that Sipes said he could see Chief Bell, and he was threatening to kill himself and told the victim he didn’t care who died. The victim then hung up on Sipes, according to the complaint.

Officer Murray immediately contacted Chief Bell to tell him Sipes was near and could see him. She also explained Sipes was threatening to kill himself and didn’t care who else died, according to the complaint.

Officer Murray then told the victim she wasn’t comfortable leaving the child in her custody as long as Sipes was still on the run and then called Jefferson County Children & Youth Services and advised them if Sipes wasn’t found, she was going to take the baby into protective custody until Sipes was arrested.

Officer Murray reported that Chief Bell returned to the station and then the victim called to tell police she had spoken with Sipes, and he told the victim he was in their vehicle in front of the apartment, and he had a knife to his throat, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, Officer Murray called Officer Winfield and asked him to assist her and Chief Bell. The three officers returned to the scene and saw Sipes in the vehicle with a knife to his throat. Officer Murray spoke with Sipes, and he said if they tried to come in, he’d cut himself. Police continued to speak with Sipes, and he eventually got out of the vehicle and was arrested without incident.

Police took Sipes to the station before taking him to Penn Highlands DuBois for an evaluation. The hospital was told to notify Officer Murray when Sipes was to be released, according to the complaint.


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