Stillwater Woman Due In Court For Arson Hearing
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Stillwater woman has been ordered to appear in court for a Sept. 14 preliminary hearing on a fourth-degree arson charge accusing her of setting fire to mattresses next to her apartment building — nine days before she allegedly threw burning papers from an upstairs balcony.
A month earlier, the defendant, Lori Ann Fagan, 54, had been ordered by a Payne County judge to complete a mental health program as a condition of her probation in a 2014 drunk driving case, court records show.
Fagan remains in the Payne County Jail on $7,500 total bail, court records show.
In her latest case, Fagan was arrested at her apartment in the 300 block of E. McElroy Street at 5:36 p.m. on June 30, according to an affidavit by Stillwater Police Detective John Paul Johnson.
Stillwater Police Officers Dusty Behne and Chris Houston had been sent at 4:24 p.m. to Fagan’s apartment complex on a report of “someone lighting papers on fire and dropping them off a second-floor balcony,” the affidavit said.
“Due to the ongoing arson investigation concerning that area, I responded to assist,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.
A neighbor said he was sitting on his couch and looking out the window when he saw Fagan “leaning up against the east railing with her hands extended out over the railing,” the affidavit alleged.
“He said she held a bundle of papers in one hand and what appeared to be a Bic lighter in the other, then lit the papers on fire with the lighter, and then dropped them over the rail onto the grass below, directly next to the building. Some of the papers successfully caught on fire and others did not,” the affidavit alleged.
The neighbor said “Fagan returned to her apartment and came back out a few minutes later and began collecting some of the papers she had dropped…all of the ones that caught fire burned out on their own,” the affidavit alleged.
The neighbor said he confronted Fagan “about throwing the burning papers and asked if she needed help or to talk, but she refused his assistance,” the affidavit alleged.
The detective collected the papers that he saw, three of which were partially burnt and part of an advertising sticky notepad for the drug, Lyrica, of the type found in clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies, according to the affidavit.
“Deputy Fire Marshall Steve Sylvester and I contacted Fagan at her apartment,” where she feigned having just awakened despite having just been seen on her balcony by a neighbor, the detective alleged in his affidavit.
“I then confronted her with what her neighbor saw and she denied setting anything on fire,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.
Her neighbor “had said that he was able to see Fagan’s face because he had a direct view of it through his window, but while Fagan was lighting the papers she had a purple and white sash over her head,” like a blanket or comforter, the affidavit alleged.
“This description is very similar to two arson incidents that occurred on June 21, 2017, in which two discarded mattresses were set on fire in the area of the dumpsters directly south of Fagan’s apartment,” the affidavit alleged.
On that day at about 5:15 p.m, Stillwater police and fire personnel responded to a mattress on fire in the area of the dumpsters, the affidavit said. “One of three mattresses was burning at that time,” the affidavit said.
About two and one-half hours later, at 7:40 p.m., “police and fire responded to the same area again to a report of another one of the mattresses on fire,” the affidavit said.
“Due to the ongoing suspicious dumpster fires that had been occurring monthly since February of this year, we had a clandestine video camera recording the dumpsters and the public area around them,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.
When the detective reviewed the video of the 5:15 p.m. event, he saw Fagan leave her balcony to go back inside, the affidavit said.
“Shortly after this, a person wrapped in a sheet that appears to mimic traditional Muslim dress walks around the east side of the 300 building from the north side and walks to the area where the mattresses were initially leaning,” the affidavit said.
“When this person walks away from the enclosure, smoke can be seen rising from the west side of the enclosure and the mattress is soon found burning by another witness,” the affidavit said.
“I also reviewed the video leading up to the 7:40 p.m. event and observed Fagan again leave her balcony to go inside,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.
“This time the apparent sheet is just wrapped around the person’s upper torso and head, apparently trying to mimic traditional Muslim headdress, but leaving her black pants exposed. The person makes three trips to the dumpsters over the next 10 to 15 minutes while smoke can be seen coming from the enclosure,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.
“Between the suspect’s second and third trips, the suspect appears on Fagan’s balcony in the same black pants and white top,” the affidavit alleged.
“The third time she is carrying what appears to be some loose papers that she uses to stoke the fire in the enclosure. Several of the papers blew off due to the wind and were caught in the tall grass,” which were collected the next day, according to the detective’s affidavit.
They were loose leaf notebook paper used as an address book – containing entries of relatives or known associates of Fagan, the affidavit alleged.
“Another mattress was found to be burned in the enclosure when the fire department arrived on scene,” the affidavit said.
“I believe it is apparent that Fagan is the person in the wrapped sheet. No one other than Fagan can be seen in any of the video footage in the area of the dumpster enclosure when the fires are set,” the detective alleged in his affidavit.
If convicted of setting fire to mattresses next to the apartment building, Fagan could be given as much as a 10-year prison term and $5,000 fine.
If convicted of outraging public decency by allegedly lighting paper before throwing it from an upstairs balcony, Fagan could be given a one-year jail term and a $500 fine.
According to court records, three years ago Fagan pleaded guilty to drunk driving and eluding a sheriff’s deputy in June 2014, for which she was placed on five years’ probation with a 30-day jail term along with a substance abuse evaluation, follow-up treatment and 75 hours of community service.
In May of this year, the judge ordered her in that case to complete a mental health program, court records show.