Man pleads not guilty in Wren fire

First Posted: 2/11/2015

WREN — A man pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated arson and one count of insurance fraud Wednesday.

The charges of aggravated arson, one a first-degree felony and the other a second-degree felony, follow after Alex J. Helt, 40, of Convoy, was accused of setting his former home on fire, said Lindsey Burnworth, public information officer with the State Fire Marshal’s office said.

He pleaded not guilty in front of Judge Kevin Taylor in Van Wert.

The fire occurred Aug. 25, Burnworth said.

“Our investigators determined that there was an arson at his home, they had actually moved out of the home at 301 E. Jackson St.” in Wren, she said.

During the Feb. 6 grand jury indictments, Helt’s name was on the list, Burnworth said.

She believes it is “likely” that the motive for the arson was for insurance purposes. The home was vacant at the time of the fire.

Investigators cannot release some information in the case as it is considered open through the State Fire Marshal’s office. Information such as if there were an accelerant used in the fire, and no dollar amount of damage to the home was released.

Van Wert County Sheriff Tom Riggenbach declined to comment on the case, as the State Fire Marshal’s office is handling the investigation.

The case will remain open throughout the trial, if there is one. No further information was available Wednesday afternoon.

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