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Woman admits to setting fire, police say

March 5, 2014 News Extra

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A patient at the Clarion Psychiatric Center confessed to setting a fire that burned down her daughter’s rental home in Slippery Rock Township last month, authorities said.

The suspect, Jennifer Brown, 42, of Clearfield Township later told her story to police investigators.

“She was upset about where her daughter was living,” said state police fire marshal Trooper Dwayne Baird this morning. “She thought the living conditions were deplorable and wanted her daughter out of there.”

So, authorities suspect Brown on Feb. 13 set the small house at 137 Etna Road on fire.

“She said she started it with a lighter,” Baird said. “She lit a bedsheet that was on the floor.”

Investigators believe Brown then left the house, walking about one-half mile to visit a friend of her daughter’s on Route 173.

Christine Lipke, Brown’s daughter, and her two young children were not at home and no one was injured in the fire.

Police arrested Brown on Tuesday and charged her with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and criminal mischief. She was arraigned and placed in the Butler County Prison on $10,000 bail.

On Friday the Clarion Psychiatric Center contacted police. One of their patients, the defendant, had made a troubling admission about a fire.

Brown, who lives at the Ridgeview Boarding Home, had earlier voluntarily committed herself to the psychiatric facility, according to police.

Baird said he interviewed Brown at the barracks in Butler Township.

“She told me, ‘This is what happened,’” the trooper said.

The house, owned by Chad Snow, sustained about $180,000 in damage. Authorities believed he had insurance. Lipke did not have renter’s insurance.

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