• Berlin arson suspect not in court
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     | August 29,2014
     

    BARRE — An arrest warrant has been issued for a Northfield man who failed to show up for his arraignment on a felony arson charge.

    Kemp C. Stickney, 25, is facing one count of first-degree arson in Washington County criminal court. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

    According to the police affidavit, emergency crews responded to a structure fire Aug. 12 on West Hill Road in Berlin. Police say an explosion had been reported before they arrived and they found a two-story shed with flames inside.

    Police say the shed, which was around 100 feet from a residence, was destroyed by the fire.

    Police say Joan Batchelder, who owns the nearby residence and is Stickney’s mother, told them her son was missing, along with a white Subaru. Police then issued a “be on the lookout” alert for both Stickney and the vehicle to check on his well-being.

    Batchelder told police her son has “extreme” schizophrenia, as well as other mental disorders, and was heavily medicated. She was afraid her son had started the fire, since he was at her home before the fire started and she saw a “red flicker” outside that turned out to be the shed fire.

    As police left to look for Stickney, a white Subaru moved toward them at high speed, they say. The vehicle came to a quick stop and Stickney got out asking if his mother was all right, according to the affidavit. Stickney told police he left to go to a friend’s house and didn’t see anything suspicious when he left.

    Stickney was taken to his mother, who asked him if he had started the fire. Police say he admitted starting the blaze. According to the affidavit, he told his mother, in the presence of police, that voices told him to grab a gas can, spill the gas on the shed and set it on fire.

    Police say the shed was estimated to be worth at least $80,000.

    Stickney was taken to Central Vermont Medical Center for a psychiatric exam, and police say he voluntarily checked himself into the psychiatric ward.

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