Bellefonte warehouse fire

Bellefonte man faces trial Friday on arson charges related to Mattress World warehouse fire

mcarroll@centredaily.comMarch 15, 2013 

A 23-year-old Bellefonte man is set for trial Friday on charges he started the early morning blaze that destroyed a Bellefonte warehouse in September.

Jeffrey Karg faces felony arson, criminal mischief and reckless burning charges for allegedly setting fire to the building behind Mattress World on South Spring Street.

Emergency crews were dispatched to the warehouse fire at 4:18 a.m. Sept. 24. Bellefonte police arrested Karg hours later when he was seen walking downtown with white paint on his shoes.

Police found footprints in white paint at the scene of the fire.

Detective Matthew Rickard, who investigated the case along with state police fire marshal Scott Swasing, testified at preliminary hearing in October that Karg got antsy when police said it would take a few hours to get a search warrant for his shoes.

Rickard testified that Karg said, “I did it, I did it. Let’s just get this over with.”

Swasing said he saw a trail of lighter fluid from the warehouse to the back of the Mattress World building, leading him to determine the fire was arson.

A state police dog trained to identify accelerants alerted authorities to the scent of the materials on Karg’s shoes.

Since his arrest, Karg has remained in incarcerated in the Centre County Correctional Facility on $150,000 bail, according to court documents.

His one-day jury trial before Judge Bradley P. Lunsford is scheduled to begin Friday morning in the Centre County Courthouse.

The early morning fire that police alleged he started leveled the warehouse and destroyed a delivery truck. The Dollar General store next door sustained water damage.

The blaze came just three weeks after the Hotel Do De and Garman Theatre, about three blocks away, were destroyed by an immense fire. Police ruled the blaze at the historic building arson in October.

Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver said Thursday that no charges have been filed in the Hotel Do De blaze, but said an investigation continues. He declined to provide further comment.

Weaver has not connected Karg to the Hotel Do De fire, and he has previously declined to comment on whether Karg is a suspect.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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