News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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fatal fire

NEW EVIDENCE PROMPTS D.A. TO FREE TRUITT

NEW EVIDENCE

PROMPTS D.A.

TO FREE TRUITT

Unnamed New Suspect Is Sought

In Hero’s Death In Oneonta Fire

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

District Attorney John Muehl said that new evidence suggests that Terrence Truitt did not set the fire that killed firefighter John Heller, (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – New evidence obtained by Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl has suggested that Terrence Truitt did not set the fatal fire that killed former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller.

Muehl said that he plans to ask the courts to release Truitt from the Otsego County Jail this afternoon.

“Our investigation has revealed additional evidence that ethically requires him to be released,” said Muehl.

The arson charges, however, will not be dropped, according to Muehl.

Truitt’s Felony Hearing Rescheduled For 1:30 p.m. In Oneonta City Court

Truitt Felony Hearing Scheduled

For 1:30 p.m. In Oneonta Court

ONEONTA – Terrence Truitt, 34, suspected in the arson death of former firefighter John Heller last Saturday in the 5 Walling Ave. fire, had his felony hearing rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. today.  He was brought to the city’s Public Safety Center at 8:30 this morning, but did not appear in the courtroom during the regular morning session.

Leads Poured In, Leading To Arrest Of Oneonta Man, 34

TERRENCE TRUITT IN CUSTODY

Leads Poured In,

Leading To Arrest

Of Oneonta Man, 34

Police, Fire Chiefs Detail What’s Known

Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon, left, and Police Chief Doug Brenner detail what they know at a 5 p.m. press conference in Oneonta City Hall. For a video of the press conference, click here.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Terrence Truitt

ONEONTA – Within hours of Saturday morning’s fire that claimed the life of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, the leads began to pour in.

“We had more than 70 leads,” said Police Chief Doug Brenner an hour ago at a press conference held jointly with Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon. “And the investigation is continuing.”

The men reported Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson, which investigators believe started on the second floor of 5 Walling Ave.

Heller and his fiancee, Amber Roe, lived on the top floor, and had their four nephews staying with them that night. Heller and Roe helped the children escape, but then was unable to get out of the building.

CLICK TO SEE TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE

 

County Board Observes ‘Moment Of Silence’ For Heller’s Heroism

County Board Observes ‘Moment

Of Silence’ For Heller’s Heroism

COOPERSTOWN – As one, county representatives bowed their heads for a “moment of silence” at this morning’s meeting in remembrance of John D. Heller, the former OFD on-call firefighter who died Saturday, Dec. 29, in a fire on Oneonta’s Walling Avenue.

County Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Town of Burlington, proposed the observance, noting Heller’s heroism:  His sister-in-law said he died while rescuing his four nephews and fiance from the flames.

In a related development, Oneonta Police Chief Douglas Brenner and Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon scheduled a press conference at 5 p.m. to provide “an update on the investigation.”

Friday Funeral For Hero Firefighter

Friday Funeral Planned

For Heroic Firefighter

John Heller

ONEONTA – A funeral for John Heller, the former firefighter who died rescuing his four nephews and fiancee in the Saturday morning fire at his Walling Avenue home, will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4 at the Bookhout Funeral Home.

Calling hours will be 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3.

Heller served with the Oneonta Fire Department in an on-call and part-time capacity from 2002-2009.

Oneonta Firefighter Died Saving Kids, Family Reports

WALLING AVENUE FATALITY

Oneonta Fireman

Died Saving Kids,

Sister-in-Law Says

Erika Heller posted this photo of her brother-in-law, John Heller, on Facebook as she described how the former Oneonta firefighter sacrificed his life to get her sons and his fiancee, Amber, to safety when the fire broke out at his Walling Avenue home.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to AllOTSEGO.com

Heller became trapped on the upper floor of 5 Walling Ave. after helping his nephews and his fiance escape the fire. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – John Heller, the former Oneonta firefighter who died when his home at 5 Walling Ave. caught fire Saturday morning, was trapped while helping his fiancee and his nephews escape the blaze, his sister-in-law reported.

“What began as a fun sleepover with their uncle John and soon-to-be aunt Amber turned into a nightmare,” Erika Heller, his sister-in-law, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday morning. “He died because he did everything he could to make sure that his fiancee and my sons were out of the home safely.

Former Oneonta Firefighter Killed In Early-Morning Blaze

Former Oneonta

Firefighter Killed In

Early-Morning Blaze

ONEONTA – A former part-time city firefighter was killed in a fire in his Walling Avenue home early this morning, Mayor Gary Herzig reported.

Herzig confirmed that John Heller, who had served with the Oneonta Fire Department in an on-call capacity, perished in the blaze, which started around 4 a.m. at his home at 5 Walling Ave.

Names Released In Fatal Davenport Fire

Names Released In

Fatal Davenport Fire

DAVENPORT – The names of the victims in Friday’s fatal apartment fire in Davenport have been released, according to state police.

Kiley J. Sullivan, 3 and Cody E. Sullivan, 1, died as a result of the fire at 498 Dehning Rd., in the town of Davenport. Their father, Carmen E. Sullivan, 44, was taken to Upstate Medical in Syracuse for burn juries.

Infant, 3-Year-Old Identified As Davenport Fire Victims

FIREFIGHTERS ARRIVED TO HOUSE AFLAME

DAVENPORT VICTIMS

INFANT, 3-YEAR-OLD

Trooper Mike Slawek, Troop C, stands watch over the scene of the the double-fatal house fire at 478 Dehning Road, Town of Davenport. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

DAVENPORT – Two children, ages one and 3, were identified as the victims in the fatal structure fire early this morning in the Town of Davenport.

According to a release posted to the Delaware County Department of Emergency Services Facebook page, the 911 call was received this morning at 1:46 a.m. Arriving at the scene, responding units found the four-unit apartment building fully engulfed in flames, with reports of two children trapped in one of the upstairs apartments.

2 Children Killed In Davenport Fire

2 Children Killed

In Davenport Fire

DAVENPORT – Two children were killed and one adult hospitalized with burn injuries after a house fire in in the Town of Davenport.

According to a news release, State Police responded to a Delaware County 911 call at 1:46 a.m. reporting a structure fire at 435 Dehning Road.  The fire was extinguished by Davenport Fire Dept., Pindars Corners Fire Dept., Hobart Fire Dept., and Kortright Fire Dept, but an investigation determined that two children died in the fire, and one adult victim was taken to Upstate Medical in Syracuse for burn injuries.

One Killed In Cherry Valley House Fire

Man Believed Dead

In Cherry Valley  Fire

A screenshot of this morning’s fatal fire in Cherry Valley, taken by the Time Warner Cable news crew.

CHERRY VALLEY – An elderly man was killed when he couldn’t escape a house fire on Lancaster Street in Cherry Valley early this morning.

The call came into Otsego County 911 at 5 a.m. and crews were dispatched to the house, where the second floor was fully engulfed.

According to Cherry Valley Fire Chief Martin Field, the adult granddaughter escaped the fire and said that she believed her grandfather was on the second floor and unable to escape. Officials are currently attempting to recover and identify him.

State Police Name Three Victims Who Died In Cherry Valley Blaze

State Police Name Three Victims

Who Died In Cherry Valley Blaze

CHERRY VALLEY – The victims in Thursday morning’s fire in Cherry Valley have been identified as Anthony Sabler, 13, Gabrielle F. Sabler, 20, and Ashley A. Tefft, 22, state police report.

All three deaths in the 3:45 a.m. fire at 165 Hone Road were ruled accidental, caused by asphyxia due to the inhalation of smoke and heated combustible material.

The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation.

3 REPORTED DEAD TODAY IN CHERRY VALLEY BLAZE

3 REPORTED DEAD TODAY

IN CHERRY VALLEY BLAZE

The triple-fatal fire at 165 Hoke Road, Town of Cherry Valley, broke out at 3:45 p.m., and by 6:45 p.m. it had been completely doused, with no steam or smoke visible at the scene.   (Jim Kevlin/allotsego.com)
The triple-fatal fire at 165 Hone Road, Town of Cherry Valley, broke out at 3:45 a.m., and all that remained at late afternoon were piles of ashes and a chimney. (Jim Kevlin/allotsego.com)
An overturned skateboard in the driveway underscores what a neighbor reported:  That a family with children lived there.
An overturned skateboard in the driveway underscores what a neighbor reported: That a family with children lived there.

CHERRY VALLEY – Police are investigating a fatal residential fire that occurred at approximately 3:45 a.m. today at 165 Hone Road in the Town of Cherry Valley, near the Otsego-Schoharie county line.

Three deceased subjects were located in the residence, according to the report on the state police media website.  The manner and cause of death are pending and the investigation is continuing, the report said.

411.com identifies the home as occupied by the Lagasse family, but a neighbor said that family had moved out years ago.  Lately, he said, it had been occupied by a family with children.

No official confirmation was available pending autopsies and further investigation.  A trooper at the scene said it was unlikely any further information would be forthcoming until Friday.

 

State police from Richfield Springs, with the state Office of Fire Prevention & Control and the Otsego County Emergency Management Team, are investigating.   Cherry Valley and Sharon Springs fire departments responded to the scene.

The home is about a mile south of Route 34A, which runs parallel south of Route 20 between Cherry Valley and Sharon Springs.   There were no neighboring homes visible from the ruins, although there are three or four homes within a half-mile.  The property is a couple of hundred yards from the Town of Sharon line.

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