AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A neighbor of a family that died in a house fire was charged Tuesday with intentionally setting it ablaze, killing two adults and five children.
Stanley Ford, 58, was charged with aggravated murder and arson, Akron police said.
Investigators would not discuss a possible motive because they are still investigating the May 15 fire. They also would not say what led them to arrest Ford on Tuesday. A message seeking comment was left at his home.
Police said they did not know of any connection between Ford and the family other than they were neighbors.
Tiffney Gary, 38, a neighbor, said she saw Ford at a vigil for the family Saturday.
She described him as quiet and said she couldn’t believe Ford might have set the fire. “I don’t understand; nobody said they had a beef or anything, or that they’ve ever argued with him,” Gary said.
Authorities last week searched several houses near the fire-ravaged home.
Killed were 35-year-old Dennis Huggins, his partner, 38-year-old Angela Boggs, and five children: 14-year-old Jered Boggs, 6-year-old Daisia Huggins, 5-year-old Kylle Huggins, 3-year-old Alivia Huggins and 11-month-old Cameron Huggins.
A medical examiner said all seven died of smoke inhalation.
“My heart is broken, I’m sad, but I think we’re on a road to some closure,” said Tony Huggins, brother of Dennis Huggins.
He said he had never met Ford and didn’t think anyone in his family knew Ford.
Ford is due to be arraigned Wednesday. Court records did not show any previous criminal convictions in Akron.
Paul Clegg, 59, a next-door neighbor of the family, said he spoke a few times with Ford.
“Just by talking to him, he seemed like a straight-up gentlemen. Some people can fool you, I guess,” Clegg said.
Firefighters found the two-story home engulfed in flames when they arrived in the early morning hours last week. The house sat at the top of a winding street in a neighborhood of mostly two-story clapboard houses in Akron, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Cleveland.
The fire happened a block from a home where a man and a woman died in an April 2016 fire that was investigated as a potential arson. No one was charged in that fire, and authorities said they are taking another look at it because of this recent blaze.
Angela Boggs’ estranged husband was detained last week after the fire on a suspected parole violation. Police said Tuesday that he is not a suspect in the fire.
Associated Press writer John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.