News of Otsego County

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

Walling Avenue fatal fire

Suspect Free, 2nd At Large In Fatal Fire


Suspect Free,

2nd At Large

In Fatal Fire


ONEONTA Surveillance video taken the night of the Dec. 29 fire that killed former Oneonta firefighter John Heller shows another person, not Terrence Truitt, at the scene of the fatal fire.
And so, District Attorney John Muehl directed that Truitt, 32, who was arrested Jan. 2 and charged with the fatal arson, be released Monday, Feb. 11, from Otsego County Jail.
“We have the suspect on tape,” said Muehl. “There’s always been a suspicion that someone else was involved, and the new evidence corroborated that other suspect.”
The name of the new suspect was not released, but the D.A. said, “Our investigation has revealed additional evidence that ethically requires him to be released. We believe that by the time Terrence was on the scene, the fire had already been started.”
During the felony hearing on Friday, Jan. 4, Michael Syron, a taxi driver, told City Judge Lucy Bernier that Truitt flagged him down at 4 a.m. the morning of the fire in the Friendly’s parking lot next to the house.
“My brother might be in the house,” Syron said Truitt told him.
Truitt told detectives that he went to the Speedway mart next to Main Street Baptist Church to call firefighters, then went back to the house but found it “too smoky” to enter.

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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