House arrest for Spring Grove-area man who torched ex's sweater

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • No one was hurt and no property was damaged, except the sweater, defense attorney Korey Leslie said.

A Spring Grove-area man who torched his girlfriend's sweater inside their attached garage must spend two months on house arrest, according to court records.

Richard Chester Ziegler, 52, of Sprenkle Road in Jackson Township, pleaded guilty Monday in York County Court to a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment and a summary offense of dangerous burning, defense attorney Korey Leslie confirmed.

Richard Ziegler

As part of Ziegler's plea agreement, felony charges of arson, risking a catastrophe and reckless burning were dismissed.

"The commonwealth extended an offer that held him accountable for a situation that could have been bad but ultimately wasn't," Leslie said. "There was no damage to the property, other than a burned sweater. ... In light of the evidence, those (felony) charges were not appropriate."

The attorney confirmed there was no smoke or fire damage to the garage, and no one was hurt.

Leslie also confirmed Ziegler and his girlfriend are no longer together.

Ziegler's plea agreement also calls for him to wear an alcohol-detecting ankle cuff while on house arrest and to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and comply with recommended treatment and counseling.

The fire: Northern York County Regional Police said Ziegler was intoxicated about 6 p.m. Feb. 28 when he draped then-girlfriend Deborah Harris' sweater over a wicker chair inside their attached garage and lit it on fire, court documents state.

The garage is directly under the living room, police said.

When Harris returned home she found the sweater and the chair on fire inside the garage, police said. She took a quick photo of the blaze and tried to extinguish the flames with water.

But Ziegler "kept spraying Gunk Engine Degreaser on the flames to keep (the fire) going," documents state.

Garden hose: Harris dragged the chair into their driveway and used a garden hose to douse the fire, police said. By the time police and Nashville firefighters arrived, the fire was out, documents state.

Police said Ziegler risked catching their home on fire and that Harris' 12-year-old son was inside the home, unaware of what was happening.

The intoxicated Ziegler was arrested at the scene, documents state.

He told officers he "didn't do anything" and asked why he was being arrested, according to documents.

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