The son of the
elderly Ogden Dunes woman who died in April in a fire in her home has been
charged with her murder.
Frederick D. Fegely,
67, with a listed address in Michigan City, was taken into custody today on
charges of murder and arson, Ogden Dunes Town Marshal Jim Reeder told the
Chesterton Tribune this morning.
Wanda Maine Wunder, 94, was found deceased by firefighters on the floor of
her bedroom at 24 Diana Road on the morning of April 16. An autopsy later
determined that Wunder died of smoke and soot inhalation but also sustained
According to the
probable cause affidavit filed by ODPD Det. Michael Teeling, Fegely told
investigators that he woke at 4:30 a.m. to the smell of something, not
obviously recognizable as smoke, and lay in his bed for a short time before
exiting his bedroom, located in the basement in the northwest corner of the
home. On opening his door, Fegely stated, he “immediately” saw heavy smoke
and attempted to climb the stairs to the main floor but was forced back by
smoke and heat.
stated, he exited the house through the basement and went to his neighbor’s
home to the west. That neighbor, however, didn’t respond to knocking, Fegely
stated, so he went to a home across the street, where he did succeed in
waking a neighbor. There Fegely reported that his mother’s house was on fire
with his mother still inside.
Teeling was able to
speak briefly to Fegely after his mother was found deceased and while the
fire investigators were still at the scene. At that time, Teeling stated in
his affidavit, Fegely advised that he was still wearing the same pajamas in
which he’d been sleeping when he woke and smelled something.
“I noticed as I was
speaking to Fegely both outside and inside (the neighbor’s home) that I did
not smell any odor of smoke on Fegely or his clothing,” Teeling stated in
his affidavit. “Based on the amount of time Fegely said he was in the home
while it was actively burning Fire Marshal Randall, Investigator Himan, and
(ATF) Special Agent Whitaker expected Fogey and his clothing would have
smelled heavily of the burning and resulting smoke.”
Teeling noted in
his affidavit that the first ODPD officer on the scene, Kevin Hughes,
entered the house through the basement but was quickly forced to retreat by
heavy smoke, unable to make it as far as the stairwell. “Even from the brief
time Ofc. Hughes was inside the basement of the home, his clothing smelled
of smoke,” Teeling stated.
were subsequently placed into evidence.
Teeling also noted
that the owner of the first neighboring residence to which Fegely said he
went for help was in fact home at the time and that man reported hearing no
“knocking or yells for help,” although “he believes he would have if Fegely
investigators determined that the blaze was incendiary in nature and had
been deliberately set. “All accidental causes were ruled out including the
appliances and electrical system,” Teeling stated. The investigators did
find, on the other hand, a “circular pour pattern” outside the window of a
southeast basement room, located “completely opposite” of Fegely’s northwest
basement room, as well as a “V pattern” just inside that southeast window.
In addition, the Portage FD’s K-9 unit, Bosco, “indicated on at least three
different locations, including this same basement window, for the presence
of an ignitable liquid,” Teeling stated.
A little more than
two months after the fire, the ATF Forensic Science Laboratory reported that
two pieces of evidence from the fire tested positive “for the presence of a
medium petroleum distillate, which is a class of ignitable liquids, such as
charcoal starters, lamp oils, and paint thinners,” Teeling stated.
The first piece of
evidence that tested positive: debris from the southeast basement window,
outside of which investigators observed the circular pour pattern and inside
of which the V pattern.
The second piece of
evidence: Fegely’s pajama pants, Teeling stated.
In an interview
with Teeling on the afternoon after the fire, Fegely advised that he’d moved
in with his mother to assist her. “He stated that she was very particular
about things and did not like his involvement in various religious
teachings, in which he was very interested,” Teeling stated. “He also
acknowledged he was no longer receiving anything under his mother’s will but
believed his daughter would share her portion with him.”
In a later
interview, Teeling added, on April 29, Fegely “confirmed that he and Wunder
were the only two people in the home the morning of the fire. He again
stated that he did not think she started the fire but he knew of no other
person who would have had any reason to start his mother’s house on fire.”
Fegely was to be
held without bond pending an initial hearing.