Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Son of Ogden Dunes woman who died in house fire charged with her murder, arson

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By KEVIN NEVERS

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.

Fegely’s mother, 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 thermal injuries.

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.

Instead, Fegely 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.

Fegely’s pajamas 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 had knocked.”

Meanwhile, fire 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.

 

Posted 1/7/2016

 

 
 
 

 

 

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