Suspect in Ohio house fire that killed 7 is denied bond

A balloon memorial sits outside the burnt home of a family that died in a fire in Akron, Ohio on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Officials have arrested a man suspected of intentionally setting the fire. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man accused of setting a house fire that killed seven of his neighbors has been denied bond at his first court appearance.

Stanley Ford (Photo: Akron Fire Department)

Stanley Ford, 58, appeared by video in court in Akron on Wednesday. He was calm as he had one charge of aggravated arson and seven charges of aggravated murder read out to him.

Judge Ann Marie O’Brien denied bond to Ford, citing “the potential risk to the community” and calling it one of the most tragic incidents in recent memory. Charges could be amended so that Ford faces the death penalty.

Police arrested Ford on Tuesday. Court records did not show any previous criminal convictions in Akron.

Investigators aren’t discussing a possible motive or what led them to Ford. Last Thursday, police executed a search warrant on a house Ford owns and one next door. He’s accused of setting a fire on May 15 that killed a couple and five children.

Firefighters found the two-story home engulfed in flames when they arrived in the early morning hours last week. The house sat near the top of a winding street in a neighborhood of mostly clapboard houses.

READ MORE: Man arrested for causing deadly Akron house fire

Killed were 35-year-old Dennis Huggins, his partner, 38-year-old Angela Boggs, and five children: 14-year-old Jered Boggs, 6-year-old Daisia Huggins, 5-year-old Kylle Huggins, 3-year-old Alivia Huggins and 16-month-old Cameron Huggins.

A medical examiner said all seven died of smoke inhalation on the second floor. The loss of life equals the deadliest fire in Akron history.

Tony Huggins, brother of Dennis Huggins, said he had never seen Ford and didn’t think anyone in his family knew Ford. Police said they didn’t know of any relation between Ford and the victims other than they were neighbors. Neighbors described Ford as a “regular, nice, normal guy” who’d occasionally wave or chat briefly while mowing his lawn.

The fire happened a block from a home where a man and a woman died in an April 2016 fire that was investigated as a potential arson. No one was charged in that fire, and authorities said they are taking another look at it because of this recent blaze.

Angela Boggs’ estranged husband was detained following the fire last week on a suspected parole violation. Police said Tuesday that he is not a suspect in the fire.

A public defender was appointed to represent Ford. He is due back in court on Thursday.

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