The arsons have been as small as lighting a vehicle fire to igniting a residential fire. At least three people have been left homeless as result of the arsons.
Trooper Bruce Morris, public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police, told WJAC-TV that the fire marshal has been working overtime because of the arson investigations.
Morris said Trooper Greg A. Agosti, who is the state police fire marshal, has been working up to 16 hours daily in hopes he can put an end to the arsons.
On Tuesday, state police were able to make an arrest, which involved the arson spree and two other investigations.
On July 10, the police arrested 28-year-old Anthony Milliard of Ridgway. He was charged with intentionally igniting a fire along First Avenue in Johnsonburg on Dec. 4, 2008.
During the investigation, state police submitted fire debris from the scene, handing the evidence over to the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Laboratory in Greensburg. On Feb.19, 2009, police said the evidence was returned to the Ridgway-based state police.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, the crime lab issued a report, indicating a heavy petroleum distillate was identified. Police continued to investigate the arson.
In April 2012, Anthony Milliard met with police at the Ridgway Borough Police Department. According to the affidavit, he informed an officer that he started the fire on the porch of a 115 First Ave. residence in 2008. He said it was at the request of his father, Francis Milliard.
Police said Anthony Milliard was given instructions by his father in order for him to collect insurance money for the loss.
The affidavit states that Anthony Milliard poured gasoline inside the residence and ignited the fire. He told police the ignition actually blew him off the porch.
On July 10, police interviewed Anthony Milliard regarding this investigation. According to an affidavit, he explained that his father owned the home and promised it to him. He began improvements to the residence and invested about $6,000.
Anthony Milliard told police that one day, his father approached him and advised that he (Francis) needed money. He outlined how the fire started to police.
In the affidavit, Anthony Milliard said that Francis Milliard took him inside the home and gave him gasoline and a rag. He told police he was instructed to ignite the fire.
The house burned.
Anthony Milliard told police his father later profited from insurance money. Records indicate Francis Milliard was issued a check for $8,888.49.
According to an affidavit, Anthony Milliard also told police on July 10, he knew how the fire started on May 30 in Ridgway Township.
He told police than at 3 a.m. May 30, his father woke him up and told him to get ready. He said they left their home and drove toward Ridgway. Francis Milliard gave his son a glass jar filled with gasoline, a pair of black gloves, a rag and a ski mask.
Francis Milliard allegedly told his son that they were going to burn down a home on West Main Street. When they arrived, his father allegedly pointed at a home for his son to ignite. After the ignition, he told police his father instructed him to throw the empty glass jar and gloves out the window while they were driving.
Anthony Milliard said he realized the next day he burned down the wrong house. He said his father was upset and told him he would have to go back and burn down the correct house at a future date.
According to another affidavit, Anthony Milliard told police that his father was the person who beat Todd Asti with a club last summer. He told police it was over drugs, and that Asti owed his father $240.
On July 23, police met with Asti at Neuro Restorative in Fairview. Asti told police that he received two to three blows to the head and currently has a metal plate in his head and a feeding tube in his stomach.
According to the affidavit, Asti admitted he owed Francis Milliard money for drugs. State police interviewed Anthony Milliard again July 23, discussing the Asti assault. This time, the interview was conducted at the Elk County Prison after he was incarcerated July 10.
On Tuesday, police arrested Francis Milliard. He has been charged with multiple counts of arson, criminal mischief, recklessly endangering another person, insurance fraud charges, criminal attempt homicide and other related charges.
Francis Milliard was arraigned and incarcerated at the Elk County Prison on $250,000 cash bond for the criminal attempt homicide in 2011; on $100,000 cash bond for the arson May 30; and on $50,000 cash bond for the arson in 2008.
Anthony Milliard was charged July 10 for the Dec. 4, 2008 incident in lieu of $25,000 cash bond. As of press time, he hadn’t been charged for the May 30 incident.
Morris said they are reviewing evidence to determine if Anthony and Francis Milliaird are involved with the other Elk County arsons. The other six arson investigations are continuing, and there haven’t been any other arrests made regarding those arsons.
Anyone with additional information should contact the Ridgway-based state police at 776-6136.