KENTWOOD, Mich. – Weeks after a fire in Kentwood left two families looking for new homes, a suspect has been arrested and charged with arson.
It’s a fire that we told you about on July 11th. Two children were sleeping in the adjacent unit when the fire was noticed by a neighbor who called 911.
19-year-old Maleek Farmer was the person on police’s radar from the very beginning and now it seems police feel they have enough evidence to charge them with felony arson, part of the evidence includes a recorded confession.
Not much has changed at the scene of the crime. The windows at the home on Kimball Avenue are still boarded up and crime tape is still hanging in front of the driveway.
But for Lynnlee Storto who used to call this home, a lot of changed.
“We had no choice but to pack up and leave,” said Storto. “I hate looking at it every day, but I have no choice. I have to look at it until the day we move.”
Storto was one of the unintended victims of the fire. Her side of the duplex shared the wall with the unit where the fire originated. It was also the same place where two children slept the night police said the fire was set.
“When they (the children) come over it’s hard for them to look at it because they want to go home and they are not allowed to,” she said.
According to Kentwood police, on the night of the fire Farmer was overheard by witnesses threatening his ex-girlfriend. A part of the case that doesn’t sit well with Storto.
“Just for a little grudge, a little argument, for him to burn down someone’s house and put five people’s lives at risk for one argument? It’s so petty and it’s so ridiculous,” she said.
Police also have evidence of an alleged recorded confession from Farmer.
Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen said, “It was critical in this case that we were able to identify this former relationship and this person as a suspect and that led to the quick apprehension of the subject.”
Farmer was booked into the Kent County Jail on a $75,000 bond. We looked into his criminal past and found that he entered guilty pleas in 2013 for sexual assault of a minor and burglary.