News of Otsego County

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

John D. Heller

Heller Might Not Have Been Target, Testimony Suggests

Heller Might Not

Have Been Target,

Testimony Suggests

Women’s Apartment Door ‘Covered’

On Floor Below Where Hero Died

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Terrence Truitt, center, is led back into the Otsego County Corrections van following the conclusion of his felony hearing this afternoon. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – A burned spray can was found outside the door of a woman’s apartment at 5 Walling Ave., state investigators told City Judge Lucy Bernier during testimony today.

And the bottom of Heather Engler’s door was “covered,” state Fire Investigator Christopher Lupold testified.

The testimony suggests the woman may have been the target, rather than the man who died: John D. Heller, 38, who was asleep one floor up with his fiancée  and his four nephews.

The spray can, burned beyond recognition, was found amid the debris found during the investigation into the fire that killed the former Oneonta firefighter who helped the four boys and fiancée Amber Roe escape before succumbing to the fire.

First Oneonta Common Council Meeting of 2019 Opens On Somber Note

First Common Council Meeting

Of 2019 Opens On Somber Note

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Common Council opened its first meeting of 2019 on a somber note, with Mayor Gary Herzig calling for a moment of silence in honor of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, who lost his life while rescuing his fiancée and four nephews from a house fire last Saturday, Dec. 29.

Herzig said about Heller, “I think we can all feel that we do have a true hero among us and can be very proud of him.”

John D. Heller, 38, Died Saving Fiancé, 4 Nephews

John D. Heller, 38, Died

Saving Fiancé, 4 Nephews

John D. Heller

ONEONTA – John D. Heller, 38, of Oneonta, gave his life saving the love of his life and fiancé, Amber Roe and his four precious nephews on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018.

He was born Sept. 22, 1980, in Oneonta, the son of John R. and Gayle (Eggler) Heller.
John graduated from Oneonta High School, Class of 2000. He attended Herkimer Community College.

John was a Life Skills supervisor at Oneonta Job Corps Academy. He was well loved and respected by both his coworkers and his students.  He was a former Oneonta firefighter.

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