According to police, they’re ready to make an arrest in relation to the September 23, 2009 fire which gutted Ypsilanti’s historic Thompson Block. The individual, a 21 year old man by the name of Jacob Robert-Andrew Popiolek, is thought to have fled the area. According to the Ypsi Citizen, Popiolek is a “160-pound white male standing at 6 feet, 3 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes.” Individuals with knowledge of Popiolek and his whereabouts are asked to contact Detective Jason Cyrbok at the Ypsi Police Department (734-482-9872).
As the better part of a year had passed, I was doubtful that we’d ever have a resolution, but it would seem as though investigators have considered Popiolek a suspect from the beginning… The following clip comes from AnnArbor.com:
…Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker said investigators are still trying to determine who else was with Popiolek that night. She said it appears the fire was caused by alcohol possibly sparked by a cigarette, and police have no evidence any other accelerant was used. But authorities said it was not an accident and was intentionally set.
“This has been a lengthy investigation to determine how this fire started,” Walker said today. “We believe they were trespassing, a fire started, and it got out of control.”
Washtenaw County Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller declined to discuss the case this morning. But he said for someone to be charged with felony arson, he or she must “willfully and maliciously” set a fire…
I should probably wait until all of the evidence is made public before weighing in, but it sounds odd to me. To begin with, given the condition of the building after the fire, I can’t imagine arson investigators were able to determine that the fire was started by a cigarette. It may well be true, but how it the world could they know, based on the surviving evidence? The only explanation I can think of is that they’ve got an eye witness who saw Popiolek set the fire. But, if that were the case, it seems as though charges would have been filed much earlier. I suppose it’s possible that it took them this long to put together a deal with the witness, etc, but it still seems odd to me. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.