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Man arrested for possessing weapon, suspected in Center Twp. house fire

August 5, 2020 News Extra

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A man suspected of breaking into a Center Township house and setting fire to it last week is jailed on other charges.

State police said Jaison L. Trout, 41, who has no known address, was arrested this morning in back of the Center Township Elementary School on Mercer Road after they found him with a set of nunchucks.

District Judge Lewis Stoughton arraigned Trout on misdemeanor charges of possession of a prohibited offensive weapon and possession of a weapon on school property. He in the Butler County Prison on $50,000 bond.

Police said they also expect to charge the defendant later today with burglary, arson and access device fraud in connection with the alleged crimes at a house on Sunset Drive at Mercer Road.

Unionville volunteer firefighters were called around 11 p.m. July 29 after a passerby reported seeing flames coming from the house. Crews were able to contain the fire to a corner bedroom, but the home was badly damaged.

Fire officials were immediately suspicious of the blaze because the house had been vacant for some time and it had no utilities connected to it.

Trooper Sean Christofferson, a deputy fire marshal, was called in to investigate.

Police, meanwhile, were also investigating reports of a man, sometimes partially naked, walking around yards and homes in the area. The suspicious man was captured on private surveillance video at a home in Timberly Heights off Sunset Road near Mercer Road allegedly looking into windows.

Lewis said while driving to work at the barracks around 6:15 a.m. today, he spotted a man near Mazzanti's Beans and Cream on Route 8 at Mercer Road, matching the description of the suspect seen loitering around the homes.The man hurried behind the nearby Crossfire church. Lewis called in patrol units, and troopers eventually caught him walking through the parking lot behind the school.

Police said the man, later identified as Trout, had the nunchucks around his neck.

He subsequently admitted to breaking into and setting fire at the Sunset Drive house, Lewis said.

Additionally, police suspect at the house Trout stole at least one store credit card belonging to the former owner, and he tried to use it at the Kwik-Fil store at Route 8 and Mercer Road.

Police said their investigation continues and Trout could face still other charges for loitering and prowling at night, in connection with the suspicious persons.

This is an excerpt from a story that will appear in Thursday's Butler Eagle

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Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Grew up in upstate New York. Earned my Journalism degree in 1983 from the University of Texas at Austin. Worked for two newspapers in Fayette County (Pa.) before starting at the Butler Eagle in 1998.