Tenant Dies Trying to Save Her Dogs as Landlord Accused of Setting House on Fire Over Unpaid Rent
Rent dispute ends in tragedy.
An Oklahoma landlord is accused of setting a house on fire because of unpaid rent, killing a tenant who rushed inside the burning building to save her dogs, Law & Crime reported this week. Allen Shaw, 89, was arrested along with his friend Randy Sander, 65. Both have been charged with one count of second-degree murder and second-degree arson in the Mar. 2 incident, according to a press release from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Danette Stowe, 43, died in the blaze. Read on to find out more about the case and another recent one like it.
Police Had Previously Been Called to House
The men are alleged to have set fire to the house in a dispute over unpaid rent, according to Sheriff Kevin Clardy. Local police had previously been called to the house on Feb. 20 because of a "civil dispute," the McCurtain County Sheriff's Office said. "The 89-year-old property owner was attempting to force the individuals residing in the residence out," said Sheriff Clardy. "Upon speaking to deputies the owner advised that they haven't paid rent in over two years and was waiting them out."
"Neither Did What Deputies Advised"
Deputies told Shaw about the formal eviction process under the law, the MCSO said. But the tenants complained about their landlord's behavior, claiming Shaw "had been out there several times." The officers suggested they obtain an order of protection. "Neither party at that time has broken any laws and was not subject to arrest, and parties separated," said Clardy. "Neither [party] did what deputies advised and on March 2nd the property owner returned with help from a friend, and set the structure on fire."
Blaze Ends in Tragedy
Stowe and her husband were outside when the house was set on fire, but she rushed inside to save her dogs. Neither Stowe nor the animals made it out alive. "When law enforcement and firefighters arrived on scene the structure was fully engulfed in flames," said Clardy. Stowe's husband was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Shaw had already driven away, the sheriff said. It took three local fire departments to put out the blaze. After they did, Stowe and her dogs were found dead inside. Shaw and Sander were arrested later that day, police said. They're being held on a $500,000 bond.
Another Rent Dispute Leads to Alleged Arson
Remarkably, this isn't the only case of a landlord allegedly resorting to arson over a rent dispute. Last August in San Antonio, Texas, 35-year-old Elizabeth Flores Romo allegedly set fire to a home over unpaid rent and was charged with arson. Romo allegedly broke into a tenant's apartment and set his door frame, then his room, on fire. According to an arrest affidavit, she texted a relative, "if she doesn't get her rent money, she's going to burn down the house."
Landlord Upset Over Unpaid Rent
When police responded to the home, they found a torch lighter next to a burned mattress. Romo said she was upset over unpaid rent, Fox 14 reported. She then allegedly told a police officer that she set the door frame on fire because the tenants didn't pay their rent on time and "don't keep the inside clean," KSAT reported. Romo was charged with arson and held on a $30,000 bond.