Ed Davis Auto Center is shown after it burned March 17.A Fair Haven couple charged with torching their car dealership have debt of more than $1.1 million and were seen leaving the business about five minutes before the fire broke out, court documents released Friday stated.
The pair, Edward Davis, 50 and his wife, Tammy, 46, will answer to individual charges of arson in Rutland criminal court Monday morning for allegedly lighting a fire that destroyed their dealership the evening of March 17.
Though neither has confessed to the crime, fire investigators said evidence collected over a four-day investigation showed the pair had ample motive to start the fire.
In an affidavit made public Friday, fire investigator Detective Sgt. David Sutton of the Vermont State Police said a surveillance video from the McDonald’s nearby showed a maroon sport utility vehicle arriving at Ed Davis Auto the night of the fire. He said two people were seen entering the dealership about two hours before the fire was first noticed.
“Later, approximately five minutes before the fire is noticed, the two people are seen approaching the vehicle from the north side of the building, and immediately driving away,” Sutton wrote in the affidavit.
He said that in a subsequent interview, Edward Davis told investigators that he and his wife went to the dealership in a maroon Jeep Cherokee because his wife had obsessive compulsive disorder and loved to clean.
“He stated they only stayed a couple of hours … during their time at the office (he) stated that Tammy vacuumed the carpets and cleaned the toilet, while he sent out some electronic mail via his computer,” Sutton said in the affidavit.
The time frame, Sutton said, coincides with the McDonald’s surveillance video.
Elsewhere in the affidavit, the fire investigator with state police said they determined the fire started within the center bay garage near charred tires where there was an acetylene/oxygen welder that had its valves open.
Sutton said the fire was intentional because “there was no accidental or natural way for the fire to occur with a reportedly unoccupied building.”
The fire engulfed the dealership’s three-bay garage and the sales side of the building sustained intense heat and water damage. A Fair Haven firefighter told Sutton that when he arrived “flames were pouring out of the roof,” according to the affidavit.
Sutton said the couple reported they did not have financial problems, but their finances revealed they owed more than $7,000 in property taxes to the town of Castleton, and more than $21,000 in property taxes to the town of Fair Haven.
The detective said they discovered Edward Davis had filed for bankruptcy in June 2012 and had a debt of more than $1.1 million.
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