By BRIAN BOHNERT
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FOR THE COURIER
TIFFIN — A Fostoria man, accused of complicity in a Memorial Day arson that killed two people, told investigators he helped the woman who started the blaze because he wanted to have a relationship with her, a video showed Tuesday.
Several witnesses took the stand Tuesday to testify against Charles V. Schaeffer, 45, who is charged with complicity to aggravated arson, complicity to aggravated murder, complicity to murder, and complicity to attempted murder for his role in the fatal blaze at 614 S. Poplar St.
One of Schaeffer’s co-defendants, Shey L. Weiker, 32, continued her testimony Tuesday in Seneca County Common Pleas Court. Weiker told the court Schaeffer instructed her how to ignite the road flare she used to start the fire in the early morning hours of May 26.
Two of the three residents at 614 S. Poplar, Daniel Joe Marker Jr., 48, and Tara Lynn Vance, 44, perished in the blaze. Both were hearing impaired.
A third resident, Dana Weatherall, 49, survived but sustained serious injuries after escaping through a back window. She too is hearing impaired.
Weiker has testified she started the fire because she thought Marker had committed a sex crime against her son.
Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine, who is representing the state, on Tuesday showed a video taken during the Fostoria Police Department interrogation of Schaeffer after the fire.
In the video, Frank Reitmeier, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, questions Schaeffer about his involvement in the fire, and Schaeffer initially denies any wrongdoing.
As his wife, Karen Schaeffer, watched from the courtroom Tuesday, Schaeffer later admitted on the video his love for Weiker and his desire to have a relationship with her should Karen pass away.
“You wanted to help her because you love her, right?” Reitmeier asked Schaeffer in the May 26 interrogation footage. “You love this woman and you’re trying to help take the pain away, aren’t you?” Reitmeier asked.
Schaeffer then became emotional and started crying while slowly nodding his head up and down. The defendant proceeded to admit instructing Weiker how to use a road flare to burn a house down because it would not leave fingerprints.
During live testimony Tuesday, Reitmeier told jurors he was called to the fire scene in order to determine the area of origin and cause of the fire.
After noting the charred front porch and collapsed roof, Reitmeier said he came to the conclusion the fire originated from the front of the home.
With help from a K-9 officer, Reitmeier said he then focused his investigation on the area, collecting debris in hopes of discovering the presence of an ignitable liquid.
“A fire of this magnitude … once debris burns, anything that would have remained would have been unidentifiable,” Reitmeier said, explaining flares burn until there is nothing left.
If it had not been for interviews with those involved, Reitmeier said he might not have known a flare was used to ignite the fire.
The third day of trial will begin at 8:45 a.m. today in Common Pleas Court Judge Michael P. Kelbley’s courtroom.