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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Arson suspect arraigned

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dawn A. Hahn, 39, faces a jail sentence of six to 20 years if convicted of intentionally setting a fire in the lounge area of the second floor of Cooper Towers apartment complex owned and operated by the Brazil Housing Authority (BHA). She has been charged with Arson, a Class B Felony,

According to the Probable Cause Affidavit, the Brazil City Police Department, the Brazil City Fire Department and the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office to find enough physical evidence at the scene to rule the fire was arson on Aug. 22.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Mike Fowler determined from burn patterns on the walls, ceiling and floor of the lounge and through the use of investigative equipment that some form of hydrocarbon accelerant was used to start a fire on a mattress located in the southeast corner of the room.

The use of an accelerant of hydrocarbon origin in a fire can create a thick black smoke, just like what was described by residents evacuated from the nine story building. A hydrocarbon is any organic compound composed solely of the elements hydrogen and carbon. Some useful hydrocarbon mixtures include alcohol, cooking gas, gasoline, kerosene, paraffin, and lubricating oils, among many others.

Once a Subpoena for Records was acquired by Detective Marty Beasley at the Clay County Prosecutor's Office and presented to the BHA, evidence was collected from surveillance video of the hallway on the second floor of Cooper Towers.

The video confirmed that at 12:27 a.m., Hahn entered the lounge and exited the area one minute later to return to her apartment before the alarm sounded at 12:29 a.m. No other person is shown entering the lounge area at the time just prior to the fire.

The cameras did show how quickly, "within seconds," the black smoke filled the hallway, making visibility difficult.

No motive for the arson has been announced by officials at this time.

Hahn was arrested at 11:04 p.m. on Aug. 23 by Police Chief Mark Loudermilk and taken to the Clay County Jail to await arraignment.

During her hearing at 10 a.m. yesterday, Clay Circuit Court Judge Robert Pell read the charges to Hahn, to which she said she understood and plead not guilty. She requested council, and Public Defender William Earls was assigned the case.

Hahn was remanded to the Clay County Jail on a $25,000 bond with no 10 percent accepted.

A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Oct. 4, with her jury trial scheduled for Nov. 14.

"The three agencies involved in this case, the BCPD, BCFD and the State Fire Marshal's Office, are continuing the investigation into this case," Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger said after Hahn's court appearance. He said that officials will be working to bring this case to its inevitable conclusion quickly, but future information would be withheld to ensure the integrity of the case.

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