CLEARFIELD – A Houtzdale man will stand trial for setting fire to his home in January of last year.
Cody Lynn Swanson, 26, is facing felony charges of arson (three counts), criminal mischief, insurance fraud and a misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person for the fire at his West Hannah Street residence in Woodward Township, on Jan. 2.
Investigators discovered that the fire originated on and near a stairway leading to the second floor and it was ignited by a direct flame, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The home had been insured for $200,000.
When Swanson was interviewed by police, he said the residence had been owned by his mother who passed away but now belonged to him and his mother’s husband, Joseph Petriskie.
He claimed at that time, not to know anything about an insurance policy he believed Petriskie had on the property.
Swanson said he thought the fire was started by a space heater. He also commented that he lost some birds and ferrets in the fire.
Further investigation revealed there was no space heater in the spot Swanson had indicated and the home contained only a few household items.
A neighbor reportedly told police she saw Swanson removing the contents of the home in the week prior to the fire.
When Petriskie was questioned, he said Swanson called him a few days before the fire asking him to remove the dogs from the home because he could not afford to feed them.
Since the fire, Swanson had been texting him asking to get the insurance money, he reported.
Troopers determined that Swanson lied to them about being near Altoona when the fire occurred by reportedly checking his cell phone records.
Another witness told police Swanson was at his home a day or two before the fire, with a pick-up truck full of personal items including a TV and computer Swanson claimed had been in the home at the time of the fire.
This witness also reported that he and Swanson had taken two ferrets in cages to someone in Philipsburg prior to the fire.
When Swanson was interviewed by police on Oct. 26, he admitted he lied to investigators and the insurance representatives. He confirmed he removed his belongings and animals before the fire and then allegedly confessed to setting the fire with the intent of destroying the home.
Swanson waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday before District Judge James Glass during centralized court. He is incarcerated on $100,000 bail.