Milford woman in jail on arson charges
Thursday, January 24, 2013
MILFORD – “I’ve got a guy lined up” to torch the building.
That’s what Colleen Carr allegedly told a tenant at 139 Union Square before police charged her with conspiracy to commit arson.
The alleged plot came to light when Rick Fells, owner of the Tasty Tobacco Shop, one of two businesses in the building, went to police to report the conversation with the tenant.
The woman, who he said he has known ever since he opened the business year and a half ago, came up to him when he was adjusting the flag on the American Indian statue outside his Milford Oval shop on Jan. 15.
They moved inside the shop, and she was shaking and crying, said Fells earlier this week, as she told him that Carr had offered to pay her $7,000 to take a week away with her daughter to vacate their third floor apartment because she wanted to burn the building down.
Fells said he reported the conversation to police the same day, and on Jan. 17 police arrested Carr, who is 50 and lives on the building’s second floor.
“I think we were a few days away from something terrible” happening, Fells said,
Police said Carr, who owns the building, “intended to have the building burned in order to collect insurance money.” The building contains P. C. Carr Realty as well as the Tasty Tobacco Shop, along with two apartments, police said.
Carr is charged with conspiracy to commit arson, a Class A felony, as well as witness tampering, a Class B felony, police said.
Cash bail set
She was held overnight Jan. 17 on $75,000 cash bail, and was arraigned Friday, Jan. 18, in Milford district court where she was in handcuffs and leg irons as she was led into court by a sheriff’s deputy.
Milford Police Capt. Christopher Nervik said in a telephone interview Jan. 18 that on Tuesday police were given a report that someone had heard about the plan and immediately began to follow up. The time between getting that report, launching the investigation and making an arrest was relatively short, the captain said.
“The potential there was pretty devastating,” he said.
Despite requests from Carr and her mother, Pauline Carr, Judge Martha Crocker refused to change her bail from the $75,000 cash that had been set following Thursday’s arrest.
A probable cause hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Feb. 4 in the Milford court.
The formal charges, which Crocker read during the hearing, allege that Carr committed an “overt act” in furtherance of the arson conspiracy but neither she, Nervik nor police Prosecutor Michael McCall would say what that was.
After the hearing, however, McCall said the police had gotten “credible information that this was more than just speculation or conversation,” and that the alleged conspiracy “had gone beyond talking.”
During the hearing, he said that the state’s position was that the conspiracy was “wanton and reckless and motivated by money” and indicated an “extreme indifference” to the safety of the community.
Should she make bail – something she and her mother indicated would be difficult, if not impossible – she would not be allowed back into 139 Union Square.
That concerned Carr, who said that not only was her business there, but she lived there.
‘No place to live’
And because her mother is one of the people with whom she was ordered to have no contact, she said she would have no place to live if she did make bail.
“If I can’t live in the building or with my mom, I have no place to live,” she told Crocker.
Shortly after that, Pauline Carr approached the judge and asked if the bail order could be changed, but Crocker refused.
“Not given the nature of these charges,” the judge told her.
That, Pauline Carr said, would preclude her from involving a bondsman, and Crocker said that was so.
“I think it’s appropriate” to continue the cash bail, the judge said.
But she said that Pauline Carr could continue to work in the real estate office and collect whatever rents were due.
According to records of Vision Appraisal, the 2,822-square-foot building was assessed in 2012 for $192,800. It had been purchased in 1988 for $210,000, the records show.
According to the Milford tax collector’s office, the property tax payment due on Dec. 3 had not been paid as of Friday.
The bill was for $2,542 and has accumulated an interest charge of $38.
Fells said it is upsetting to work hard to build a business and then come close to losing it in a fire. He said he is interested in having a larger store and will probably move.
“This is crazy,” he said.
Police said detectives continue to investigate the case, and ask that anyone who has more information to contact them at 249-0630.
One thirty-nine Union Square is on the west side of the Oval in the area where Buxton’s Tavern was built in the late 1700s. The fire department met in the tavern in 1840 to plan the town’s first fire house.