By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
A 20-year-old cadet firefighter has been charged with five counts
of arson involving barn, house and field fires that occurred
during the last year in the Buckland area.
John Kehoe of Wapakone-ta, a cadet firefighter with the Buckland
Volunteer Fire Depart-ment, appeared in Auglaize County Common
Pleas Court on Friday and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He posted a $5,000 unsecured bond and was released on his own
Kehoe, a cadet since 2001, is represented by Wapakoneta attorney
John Poppe. A telephone conference is set for Oct. 23.
Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce, who knows the Kehoe family,
requested a special prosecutor be appointed to the case due
to conflict of interest. The case is being prosecuted by attorney
Martin D. Burchfield of Van Wert County. Burchfield declined
to explain the investigation that led to Kehoe’s arrest.
The investigation of the case was a joint venture between the
Buckland Fire Department, the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s
Office and the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office.
Kehoe waived his right to have his case heard by a grand jury
and is being charged under a bill of information. A bill of
information, an alternative to an indictment, is a written accusation
of crime signed by the prosecutor, charging a person with the
commission of a crime.
Court documents allege that Kehoe is responsible for burning
three barns, an unoccupied home and a wheat field.
The dates of the fires and the owners of the properties are
Sept. 14, 2002: A barn and hay storage owned by Bruce Baker,
08533 Ohio 197.
Jan. 4: A barn and hay storage owned by Marvin Zwiebel, 1788
Jan. 23: An unoccupied home at 18632 Ohio 198, owned by Trent
April 5: A barn and hay storage owned by Harold Doering, 17570
Main Street Road.
July 17: A wheat field at 22488 Conant Road, owned by David
Damage to several of the structures was extensive, however,
no injuries were reported while battling any of the fires.
Four of the arson charges are fourth-degree felonies, and one
— relating to the wheat field — is a first-degree
A cadet firefighter must be at least 14 years old and is prohibited
from entering a burning structure or participating in a dangerous
situation. Several fire departments in both Mercer and Auglaize
counties have cadet firefighters who train alongside the more
experienced rescue workers.