ARREST IN LINDLEY LIBRARY FIRE
by B J BECKHAM
Robert and Richard Hampton were arrested for the September 30th arson that took the Lindley Branch of the New Grace County Public Library. The accused are heirs to the estate of Homer Hampton who willed the structure to the county for public use.
Two vehicles were seen leaving the scene of the fire and partial plates were provided to the investigators. A search of DMV records showed cars matching the descriptions belonged to the brothers.
The brothers claim to have been asleep at the time of the fire in the home of Robert Hampton. No one was present to confirm this. According to Fire Marshall Ruth Perkins trace evidence of the accellerant used was found at the home.
“Their motive is clear,” said Sheriff Ozell Keith. Prior to the conversion of the former Hampton Mercantile and Grain into a library, Robert and Richard Hampton expressed opposition to the bequest to the county and lost an argument contesting it in court.
After the fire they again filed a petition to the court seeking to enjoin any rebuilding by the county and returning the land to the estate. Their argument is that the will specifically requires the structure to be dedicated for public use, as there is no longer a structure the land reverts to the estate.
The brothers appeared for a bond hearing and are out on fifty thousand dollar bond each.
“You would think that would put an end to their injunction. You can’t burn down the structure and then claim because there is no structure you should get the land back.” said Lindley Mayor Michael Bray. “But it didn’t turn out that way.”
At the injunction hearing the judge ruled that the will is clear. It specifically refers to the structure and is written in such a way that the county would loose the use of the land if they do not maintain the structure for public use. In regard to allowing criminals to profit from their crime, the judge said, “If convicted I would be sickened if they were rewarded for their crime. However, they are not the sole heirs to the estate. There is also Randall Hampton, a third brother, who has been out of the country since his father’s death and who is not implicated in the crime.”
Regardless of the fate of Richard and Robert Hampton, the New Grace County Public Library will have to find a new location for the Lindley Branch.