Women’s Apartment Door ‘Covered’
On Floor Below Where Hero Died
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.
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.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to 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.
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.