LIMA — A homeless man who set a fire that destroyed a downtown Lima landmark earlier this year has been charged with two counts of attempted murder as well as arson.
Jeffrey England, 40, entered pleas of not guilty Monday during his arraignment hearing in Allen County Common Pleas Court to two counts of aggravated arson and two counts of attempted murder. He was indicted earlier this month by a grand jury in connection with the June 23 fire that destroyed a vacant building at 122 N. Elizabeth St. The building once housed the Roxy Food & Spirits establishment.
The grand jurors determined that England “did purposely attempt to cause the death” of Michael Adkins and Matthew Peddicord, who were also living in the abandoned structure at the time of the fire.
England first told investigators he started the fire accidentally when he failed to extinguish a cigarette, then later changed his story and said he had hoped to kill himself in the blaze. Eventually England told detectives he set fire to a blanket and then a mattress in an attempt to kill the two men inside the building.
Firefighters were dispatched to the scene and found heavy fire and smoke coming from multiple windows on the third floor of the vacant building. Firefighters began an offensive attack on the fire but were forced to retreat after the building was deemed to be unsafe for firefighters to enter.
According to earlier statements by Detective Brian Snyder of the Lima Police Department, England was squatting in the vacant building, living there with at least Adkins and Peddicord. After being seen leaving the scene of the fire England walked into the LPD and admitted starting the blaze.
The building was a total loss and the city of Lima immediately razed the structure.
If convicted of all four counts against him, England faces a minimum of 44 years in prison.