Rape suspect's trial delayed after victim dies in Youngstown fire
A Mahoning County assistant prosecutor has asked for the trial of a man suspected of rape to be delayed after the girl who prosecutors believe to be his victim was one of three people who died in a house fire early Monday morning.
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin asked for the trial of Robert Seman, Jr., 46, to be delayed Monday. His trial was scheduled to begin Monday at 8:30 a.m.
McLaughlin also said that the Youngstown Police Department believes Seman tried to bribe a potential witness in the case. McLaughlin called Seman a "danger to the public." Authorities have revoked bond for Seman.
Goshen Police arrested Seman on March 15, 2014, after court authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. A Mahoning County Grand Jury later indicted Seman.
The victim's mother contacted police March 10, 2014 to report that her daughter told her Seman had been engaging in sexual conduct with her for several years.
The girl was a fourth-grade student at South Range Elementary and had been a student there since kindergarten, according to school Principal Steve Matos.
Firefighters arrived at a house at 3631 Powers Way on Youngstown's south side around 3 a.m. Monday after neighbors heard an explosion and called 911.
Firefighters searched the house and have confirmed that three people died in the fire. Prosecutors confirmed in court that the three people were the girl believed to be the rape victim and her grandparents.
Neighbors said a couple and their granddaughter lived in the house and that the grandparents were deaf.
The windows of the house were shattered, but firefighters were not sure if an explosion occurred.
Firefighters at the scene said they believe the fire started in the basement but were not sure of the cause of the fire.
Youngstown couple and granddaughter killed in early morning house fire
Three people have died in an early morning house fire in Youngstown.
The Youngstown Fire Department says the fire broke out around 3:45 a.m. Monday on the south side of the city, The Associated Press reported.
Youngstown Fire Chief John O'Neill told The Youngstown Vindicator two adults and a child were deceased and 30 firefighters and nearly all of the city's fire trucks were on the scene of the blaze, in the 3600 block of Powers Way.
"It was fully involved. We had quite a bit of fire in the basement, so that's the likely origin," he told The Youngstown Vindicator. "They had fire all through the house, top to bottom. The floors were giving way almost immediately upon entry."
Fire officials haven't released the names or ages of the three who died, according to The Associated Press.
Neighbors told WKBN-TV in Youngstown a couple and their granddaughter lived in the house and the grandparents were deaf.
WKBN-TV is reporting the girl may have been a rape victim. A Mahoning County assistant prosecutor has asked for the rape trial of Robert Seman, which was scheduled to start today, to be delayed after the girl who prosecutors believe to be his victim was killed in the house fire.
Firefighters were called to the house after neighbors heard an explosion and called 911, WKBN-TV reported.
Jean McCammon told the Youngstown Vindicator she was jolted awake by an explosion and seconds later saw the burning house across the street, with firefighters arriving soon after that.
"My feet hit the floor, and I looked at the clock. It was 3:41," McCammon, 82, told The Youngstown Vindicator, saying at first she thought a vehicle had hit a utility pole because her lights were flickering.
"The fire was coming out of the basement, and by the time I got to my front door, which was about nine steps, the whole thing was gone," she told The Youngstown Vindicator of the house, which, by then was fully engulfed in flames. "You couldn't tell there was a house there."
McCammon told The Youngstown Vindicator a middle-aged couple and their 8-year-old granddaughter lived in the house.
"They were good people. They got along fine, and they were in no trouble with anybody. They came over here in the winter and shoveled my driveway, and, in the fall, raked the leaves," McCammon told The Youngstown Vindicator. "The little girl was just the light of their lives."
It is not clear what sparked the fire, and firefighters are continuing to search for additional victims this morning, WKBN-TV is reporting.
The windows of the house were shattered, but it has not been confirmed that an explosion occurred, according to WKBN-TV.
Youngstown Fire Capt. Perry Harrison was injured when he fell through the first floor into the basement and was taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, The Youngstown Vindicator reported.
"He was banged up pretty bad, but I think he'll be OK," O'Neill told The Youngstown Vindicator.
O'Neill told The Youngstown Vindicator firefighters did not know whether the house had any smoke detectors.
Investigators seek cause of deadly Youngstown house fire
A ten-year-old girl and her grandparents are dead after fire swept through their home in Youngstown early Monday.
The house in the 3600 block of Powers Way was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived shortly after 3:30 a.m. The three victims were all found on the second floor. They are identified by the family as 63-year old William Schmidt, his 61-year old wife Judith and their ten year old granddaughter.
Neighbors say they heard what sounded like an explosion, then saw flames. Fire investigators say it appears the blaze started in the basement.
"We're checking the gas lines and stuff like that and we have to check the furnace and other appliances in the basement," said fire investigator Alvin Ware of the Youngstown fire department.
Youngstown police are involved in the investigation as well because the granddaughter was the victim of an alleged rape in 2014. Forty-six-year-old Robert Seman is charged in that case and was due to go on trial starting Monday morning.
"We're just taking precautions, but as of yet there's nothing to indicate that this was a criminal incident," Detective Captain Brad Blackburn said.
The grandfather was an avid hunter and gun collector but his sister says he kept all guns and ammunition in a safe.
"He was all about safety, safety first, I can't believe it would have been something due to carelessness on his part," Connie Glozer said.
Both grandparents were deaf and investigators say they could not locate any smoke detectors in the house. Police say the direction of the investigation going forward will depend upon the findings of the arson task force and the state fire marshal.
Prosecutor: Victim in rape case died in South Side fire
A case involving a Green Township man charged with raping a 10-year-old girl was halted today because prosecutors said the victim died in today's early morning fire on the South Side.
However, police department Chief of Detectives Capt. Brad Blackburn told The Vindicator that so far there appears to be nothing criminal in the fire at 3631 Powers Way this morning that killed three people.
As of yet, a cause or point of origin for the blaze have not yet been determined, he said.
Robert Seman, 45, of West Calla Road, was indicted in March 2014 on four counts of rape, which carry maximum sentences of life in prison, and four counts of gross sexual imposition.
A spokeswoman for Judge Maureen Sweeney did not give the victim's name but she did say the victim lived with her grandparents.
A neighbor was jolted awake this morning by an explosion and seconds later saw the burning house across the street, with firefighters arriving soon after that.
She later learned that three occupants died inside the house at 3631 Powers Way.
"My feet hit the floor, and I looked at the clock. It was 3:41," she said.
At first, the retired nurse thought a vehicle had hit a utility pole because her lights were flickering.
"The fire was coming out of the basement, and by the time I got to my front door, which was about nine steps, the whole thing was gone," she said of the house, which, by then was fully engulfed in flames.
"You couldn't tell there was a house there," she added.
The house was occupied by a middle-aged couple and their 9-year-old granddaughter, she said.
"They were good people. They got along fine, and they were in no trouble with anybody. They came over here in the winter and shoveled my driveway, and, in the fall, raked the leaves," she said.
"The little girl was just the light of their lives," she recalled.
Fire Chief John O'Neill said 30 firefighters and nearly all of the city's firetrucks were on the scene of the blaze.
"It was fully involved. We had quite a bit of fire in the basement, so that's the likely origin," he said. Engine 9 arrived first at the scene.
"They had fire all through the house, top to bottom," he added.
"The floors were giving way almost immediately upon entry," O'Neill said
Fire Capt. Perry Harrison of Engine 9 was injured when he fell through the first floor into the basement and was taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.
"He was banged up pretty bad, but I think he'll be OK," the chief said.
O'Neill said the cause was undetermined and firefighters did not know whether the house had any smoke detectors.
A spokeswoman for Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who will preside over the trial, said no new trial date has been set.
The spokeswoman also said Seman is jailed without bond and that there will be a hearing on whether, and at what level and under what conditions, bond should be set for him. The date for that hearing has not been set.
The girl's mother told police Seman had been abusing her daughter for several years, Goshen Township police said.
The county Children Services Board assisted in the investigation, and Seman's two-year-old child was removed from his custody.
The 10-year-old victim was apparently a student at South Range Elementary School, where officials issued an alert to families that grief counselors would be available today and beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday for her classmates.
2 alarm fire engulfs Youngstown business
Youngstown firefighters spent the morning battling icy conditions to tackle a 2 alarm blaze at a Youngstown business.
Shortly after 2 a.m. crews were called out to Youngstown Auto Sales on Wilson Ave, where Youngstown Fire Department Chief John O'Neill says the building was engulfed in flames.
O'Neill said when firefighters arrived on the scene flames were showing from the second floor in the front of the building.
However, crews were forced to battle the blaze from three different points of attack.
O'Neill said it seems the fire had three different points of origin.
The morning's cold temperatures added to the battle by freezing water and making for slick conditions.
"We've had some slips and falls, everything is pretty frozen out here. So everyone's a little banged up. But we managed to hold it off from taking two other buildings and a lot of expensive equipment," said Chief O'Neill.
The damage to the building and several cars on the lot are believed to be extensive.
The 2 alarm fire is under investigation as officials search for the cause of the fire.