February 26, 2020

Tenn girl charged in blaze> Survivor reportedly admitted setting fire

FARMINGTON – The survivor of a fatal fire who said she would have “walked through the flames” if she had known her friend was in the burning trailer now stands accused of setting the fire.

Crystal Spinney, 17, was arraigned on a juvenile charge of arson Thursday and returned to the juvenile detention center in Charleston.

A state police affidavit indicates she admitted using a candle to set fire to clothing in the living room of the trailer, then jumping out a window.

Heather Hayden, 17, was killed when the fast-moving blaze swept through the trailer early Sunday. The state medical examiner ruled that she died from smoke inhalation and that the manner of death was consistent with homicide.

Spinney escaped with minor burns on her arm, but she said previously that she did not know that her friend was home at the time.

“If I had known she was there, I would have walked through the flames to get her,” she told the Waterville Morning Sentinel. “I feel terrible; I would do anything to bring her back.”

The affidavit indicates fire investigators were suspicious from the beginning because burn patterns on the living room floor were consistent with the use of flammable liquid.

The trailer was rented to Spinney’s father, but he didn’t live there. It was described by investigators as the site of a weekend party before the fire broke out.

Two friends of Spinney admitted in interviews to stopping by the trailer before the fire was reported.

One of them told police he thought he could have started the fire with a carelessly discarded cigarette. But investigator Joel Davis of the State Fire Marshal’s Office concluded the fire moved too fast to have been started by a smoldering cigarette butt.

Later, Spinney admitted starting the fire, and cigarette butts found behind an organ were not touched by the fire, according to the affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Angela Blodgett.

The affidavit did not indicate why Spinney would have wanted to start the fire.

Spinney said she returned home Saturday night thinking Hayden was out because her door was shut and because it was unusual that her Rottweiler failed to greet her.

The dog perished in the fire. Its body was found in Hayden’s bedroom.

State police detectives left open the door for prosecutors to bring more serious charges of manslaughter or murder.

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