Arson charged in Aulne house fire
The owner of a 110-year-old Aulne house that burned to the ground Oct. 17 has been charged with arson.
Julie Starks, 35, who since the fire has been living in Peabody, was taken into custody Thursday on a felony count of arson and a second charge of interference with law enforcement officers, also a felony. She was released on bond.
County attorney Courtney Boehm confirmed the arson charge resulted from an investigation conducted by state fire marshal investigator Chris Mercer.
“He was on the scene at the time of the fire, which included examining the scene and speaking with witnesses,” Boehm said. “I agreed there was probable cause to file the charges.”
Boehm said the alleged interference with law enforcement officers also happened Oct. 17.
“It is related to actions at the scene,” Boehm said. “She obstructed or restricted an officer doing his official duty. It was a deputy with the sheriff’s office.”
Sheriff Robert Craft confirmed that Starks was detained at the scene in a deputy’s vehicle after interfering with officers and firefighters, but was released without any additional action until Thursday. Craft said the delay in filing the charge was to have it coincide with the arson charge.
Firefighters from Marion, Peabody, and Hillsboro could do little other than keep the fire from spreading to adjacent property, as the old wood-frame house already was fully engulfed in flames when the first units arrived around 1:30 p.m.
The arson charge is a level six person felony, with penalties based on criminal history and other factors, Boehm said. If convicted of arson, Starks would face a prison sentence of between 17 and 46 months and a possible fine of up to $100,000.