Fire at suspect’s house ruled arson

GILBOA — The State Fire Marshal’s Office says an arsonist started a fire that destroyed the home of a Putnam County man after he was indicted on 46 felony charges.

Gary L. Badertscher was in custody when the blaze destroyed his Dutchman Travel Trailer at 328 Sugar Ridge Road in Gilboa on Dec. 21, the same day news of his indictment was widely reported.

“It was determined that someone had deliberately ignited combustible materials in the center of the trailer, based on burn patterns and the damage caused,” said Michael Duchesne, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The office has completed its investigation unless new information surfaces, Duchesne said. Anyone with additional information on the fire is being asked to call state investigators at 800-589-2728.

Badertscher, 53, has pleaded not guilty to all 46 counts in Putnam County Common Pleas Court. The felony charges include compulsion to involuntary servitude, endangering children, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, pandering sexually-oriented material involving a minor, and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

The indictment alleges Badertscher coerced underage women to be used in sexual material, and possessed child pornography.

Each offense is alleged to have occurred between last year and August in Putnam County.



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