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Neighbors ‘Not Surprised’ By Stephen Way Fire

Neighbors paint a harrowing portrait of a man on a steady decline.

Several people gathered outside of their homes to watch a bizarre scene unfold on the 1300 block of Stephen Way Friday evening.

One of their neighbors had holed up inside his burning home and was refusing to leave.

Steve Shepper lives next-door to the house involved in the fire. He said when he arrived home from work he saw smoke billowing out of the vents on the side of the house.

“There was an older couple who stopped their car in the middle of the road. A gentleman got out and was banging on the door,” he said.  “My neighbor poked his head out and said ‘It’s just a little smoke,’ then he shut the door and went back inside.”

Shepper said he called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher of the situation. He said the police arrived quickly, along with multiple area fire departments.

Neighbors said police are very familiar with the man who resides at the home that burned, and several painted a frightening picture of a man who has been in a downward spiral for the past few years.

They recalled incidents where he was seen wielding a knife in his back yard, walking down the street brandishing a gun, burning flags on his front lawn, even flooding his house to the point where it was condemned by the township.

They said the man had a difficult past, but up until the death of his parents a few years back he maintained a semblance of a normal life.

“After he had no one to take care of him, no one to ensure he was taking his meds, it was all downhill from there” said one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. 

“Is this shocking, yes, but I can’t say that it is surprising,” he said. “We have all been saying something like this was going to happen. I don’t understand what it takes to get people the help they need.”

This story is developing. Check back with Patch for updates.

Tom October 08, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Its the county court's fault! Every time the police go in and round him up, the court just puts him right back into the house. Why won't they send him where he can get some help?? (Where he won't be any where near me or my kids)
Interesting October 08, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I keep hearing people say, "that's so sad, he needs some help." His family has been trying to help him endlessly, but he refuses. I agree Tom, it's the court's fault for releasing him. He's unstable and it's just a matter of time before he hurts someone besides himself. And God help him if it's one of my kids. He needs to go away for a long time so his brother can get control of the estate and sell the house, or knock it down which would probably be even better.

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