DUBOIS – A former employee will stand trial for allegedly setting fires at a Sandy Township assisted living facility.
Steven Michael Rode, 23, of Sykesville, was charged with 10 counts of arson, five counts of aggravated arson, risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief and four counts of recklessly endangering another person by the Pennsylvania State Police in January after an investigation into fires at Fayette Resources, an assisted living facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Sandy Township.
Rode, an employee, claimed he set the fires because he did not receive the recognition he deserves from his employer, according to investigators. He went on to say that he received praise for the way he handled the first fire and set the other fires to receive more accolades.
After a preliminary hearing during centralized court on Friday, most of these charges were held to court by District Judge Patrick Ford. Two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson were dismissed.
Rode is free on $25,000, unsecured bail.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, there was a fire in the laundry room at 12:35 a.m. on Jan. 15 near the power cord for the dryer.
On Jan. 21 there was another fire in the laundry room. This time clothes were found burning near the dryer as the fire spread up the wall.
Police were advised by another employee that a fire occurred earlier that evening.
This witness said he and Rode found burning clothes in a dryer that was operating. Because they were able to put that fire out, the fire department was not called.
At that time, the residents were evacuated and four residents were relocated to another property. This witness and Rode returned to the building to gather personal items for the displaced residents. Rode was in the building only 10 to 15 minutes before leaving.
When the witness entered, he saw smoke again and called 911. The witness pointed out that the second fire had consumed some of the clothing from the earlier fire. It appeared that these clothes were moved from where the witness had placed them.
After an examination of the dryer by an investigator, both of the fires on Jan. 21 were determined to be arson. There were also indications that the fire on Jan. 15 was also arson.
In an interview with police, the witness noted that there was another small fire on Jan. 14 inside a baseboard heating unit along the laundry room wall. Rode was able to extinguish that fire with a glass of water.
Rode confessed to police that he started the first fire on Jan. 14 by lighting dryer lint inside the heating unit. He set a cardboard insect glue trap behind the dryer on fire on Jan. 15.
For the third fire on Jan. 21, he said he poured alcohol on clothing inside the dryer. Later he lit the same burned clothing on fire again using a lighter, he said.
The physical evidence supported Rode’s story.
It was determined that Rode’s motives for setting the fires fall into the category of excitement and physiological disorder, according to the report.