Texarkana Gazette

Dispute ends in arson, death, sheriff says

Property owner arrested, allegedly upset over back rent


IDABEL, Okla. — A civil dispute in late February led to an alleged arson Thursday and the death of a female occupant.

On Feb. 20, McCurtain County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a residence west of Idabel. The 89-year-old property owner was attempting to forcibly remove the residents.

“Upon speaking to deputies, the owner advised that they haven’t paid rent in over two years,” according to a social media post by Sheriff Kevin Clardy.

Deputies reportedly informed the property owner of the legal process for eviction.

The residents reportedly told deputies they were concerned because the owner recently had visited the property several times. They were encouraged to seek a protective order, Clardy said.

“Neither party at that time had broken any laws and was not subject to arrest,” the sheriff said.

However, the situation escalated Thursday when the owner and an associate allegedly returned to the property and set the residence on fire.

“We do know that both individual­s of the residence were outside the residence at one time, but the female went back inside the burning structure in an attempt to save pets,” Clardy said.

When law enforcemen­t and firefighte­rs arrived on scene, the residence was engulfed in flames.

Deputies made contact with the male resident, who said the property owner left the area in a vehicle and that he believed the female was still inside. Once the fire was under control, the remains of the female and two dogs were located inside the burned-out building.

“Other law enforcemen­t was advised of the situation and located the property owner at a residence located in Idabel a short time later,” Clardy said.

The property owner and his associate have been arrested and face several felony charges. This investigat­ion continues.

The names of the property owner, his associate and the female victim were not immediatel­y available. The Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment late Sunday afternoon.

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