BUSKIRK, N.Y. - Two Washington County residents have been arrested and charged after investigators found they purposely ignited their Buskirk home on fire while their 3-year-old child was left inside.
Thursday morning, 43-year-old Frank Ruggles Sr and his live-in girlfriend 33-year-old Leann Coon, from Buskirk, were taken into custody at a local motel in Hoosick Falls by state police with warrants out for their arrest.
Police say the fire, allegedly set by the couple the morning of September 1st, destroyed their mobile home on Duell Hollow Road. The couple's motivation, investigators found, was to collect on insurance money and purchase a new home.
State police say after the fire, the pair received $3,000 up front from their insurance company, as well as their hotel accommodations, and was expected to receive $60,000 for the house and eventually around $42,000 for the contents inside from the insurance company.
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright says Coon confessed to deliberately setting the fire when being questioned by state police on September 5th. According to court records, Coon said the couple wanted to stage the fire to look like an electrical fire by spraying an accelerant in an outlet. Coon told police they set the fire because they wanted a larger home to fit all seven people. Both Coon and Ruggles are unemployed.
Police initially believed the fire was caused by an electrical problem. In statements to police Coon and Ruggles said they "awoke to fire at 6 a.m. in the children's bedroom."
According to police, Ruggles and Coon lived in their Buskirk home with five children. Police say four of the children, who are Coon's from a previous relationship, were not home the night of the fire, but the fifth child, a 3-year-old boy, was allegedly sleeping on the couch when the fire was ignited.
According to court documents, Coon was "next to [her son] when Frank went into the back bedroom to start it. [Coon] said that it started really quick and she picked up [her son] and went outside and then called 911."
Police say Ruggles, a convicted felon in Vermont, has yet to make any admissions to the fire. In court records he stated he "didn't have anything to do with the fire."
Ruggles, Coon and the child all made it out of the blazing home without any injuries.
The couple has been charged with Arson 2nd-degree, two counts of Insurance Fraud, Reckless Endangerment, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Both pleaded not guilty to all charges and are currently in Washington County Jail on $75,000 bail for Coon and $125,000 bail for Ruggles.
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