Fire investigators Jan McCloud and Randall McBee would like to close the book — or more accurately 11 books — on a five-year-old homicide/arson investigation.
“The investigation has taken us everywhere from Wisconsin to California — and everywhere in between,” McCloud said.
The duo is still investigating a fire which claimed the life of 26-year-old Shawn Ornsbee of Newton. His death, combined with the determination of investigators that the fire was set intentionally, makes this case a homicide.
And one that McBee and McCloud can’t let go.
“There is no statute of limitations on homicide,” McBee said. “With a homicide we will never stop looking. Every lead that comes up, we will follow through.”?This unsolved arson is one of only two on the books for Newton Police —the other occurred in July of this year.
?The two follow up on tips they get from time to time — there is an open Crime Stoppers file and reward for the capture and conviction of whoever started the fire.?And there are 11 notebooks of notes, reports and photos the two sift through.
?“We review what we have so far,” McCloud said. “We want to be sure we didn’t forget everything.?At about 10 p.m. May 18, 2008, fire broke out in an apartment complex in the 500 block of Heather Lane.?Two units were destroyed by the fire, two other were damaged by smoke. Damage was estimated at $240,000.
?Then fire chief Gary Denny told the Kansan in 2008 that Shawn Ormsbee reportedly went back into the burning apartment complex and succumbed to the fire. Denny said no one knew why the man re-entered the building.
?Sharon Fisher, reportedly the girlfriend of Ornsbee, smelled smoke and went out on the balcony of the apartment.
?Her exit was blocked by the fire, and she jumped from the second-story balcony of the building.?There reportedly were children living in the apartment, but Denny said the children had left before the fire started.
?The building was an eight-apartment complex — and there have been literally hundreds of people to talk to about what happened that night.
?“We’ve run into language barriers,” McCloud said.
?“Some people are not wanting to talk, or to get involved,” McBee added. “Anytime you have something in an apartment complex, you have to talk to everyone.”
?Yet the case is still waiting to be cracked —none of the tips or interviews has led to an arrest. After nearly five years, the case is still under investigation.
?Anyone with information about the fire should call Crime Stoppers at 284-2400. There is a monetary reward offered by Crime Stoppers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.