News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Top Story 2

March 4, 2010

Accused arsonist faces multiple felony counts

Wagle accused of tossing Molotov cocktails to start fires

TERRE HAUTE — A man accused of using Molotov cocktails to set two fires in retaliation against a former girlfriend now faces felony arson charges related to fires that endangered six people, including two small children.

Joseph Andrew Wagle, 30, appeared in police custody in Vigo Superior Court 6 on Thursday, where Judge Pro Tem Brad Bough found probable cause for his arrest on four class-B felony arson charges and one class-A misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.

“This could easily be charges with six counts of attempted murder,” said arson investigator Norm Loudermilk prior to the court hearing.

Loudermilk said Wagle was aware that people would be asleep inside the home at 528 S. Seventh St., because Wagle had recently been kicked out of the residence by his former girlfriend. When the fire broke out, his former girlfriend was not at home. But her parents were asleep in the upstairs apartment, along with her two children, ages 4 months and 2 years.

“Had that landlord not had a smoke alarm, the two kids would be dead,” Loudermilk said. As it was, a family pet did die in the fire.

Loudermilk told the Tribune-Star that Wagle confessed to him Wednesday about arson fires on Feb. 27 and March 2 after Wagle was arrested on a warrant for a small claims case. Wagle was taken to Terre Haute Police headquarters, where he gave a voluntary statement about the arsons.

In the Feb. 27 incident, Wagle allegedly walked from his home in the 1500 block of North 26th Street to a Jiffy Mini Mart at 25th Street and Eighth Avenue where, Loudermilk said, he bought 50 cents worth of gasoline that he put into an empty 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottle. He then stoppered the bottle with a rag. Wagle’s actions were allegedly captured on video surveillance at the business.

With the loaded bottle in one pocket and a brick in another pocket, Loudermilk said, Wagle walked across the city to the home in the 500 block of South Seventh Street, where he allegedly threw the brick through a window in a stairwell. He then allegedly lit the Molotov cocktail and threw it through the broken window into some boxes and storage containers. The fire shot up the stairwell, Loudermilk said, trapping the upstairs occupants in their residence.

  One downstairs occupant of the duplex happened to be awake and heard the window crash when the brick was tossed. Moments later, he and his girlfriend saw smoke and escaped the dwelling.

Luckily, the woman asleep in the upstairs apartment heard the smoke detector and woke up her husband, Loudermilk said, and they grabbed the two grandchildren and exited onto a front porch balcony on the home. A cab driver who happened to be nearby saw the fire and assisted the family by catching the two grandchildren and helping the adults when they jumped from the balcony.

Shortly after the fire department arrived at the scene, the front porch collapsed, Loudermilk said. Fortunately, the firefighters had not yet advanced to the front porch, or they would have been injured by the falling debris.

Two days later, Wagle allegedly took the same action as he filled another pop bottle with gasoline and walked to a home in the 1800 block of North 23rd Street. Loudermilk testified in court that Wagle lit the rag in the gas-filled bottle and then placed it under the front seat of a 1979 Ford. That vehicle was used by the boyfriend of Wagle’s former girlfriend, Loudermilk said, and it was owned by the boyfriend’s mother. The fire from the auto spread to houses on either side of the burning car. Two people occupied one of the homes and were able to escape the fire. The other house happened to be vacant at the time.

Both of those homes received substantial damage, Loudermilk said, and the car was destroyed.

Authorities considered Wagle a suspect in the arsons because of his alleged recent harassment against the former girlfriend and her family, the arson investigator said. The victims cooperated with the investigation by helping lure him to the area with text messages, at which time police arrested him on the small claims warrant.

Some of the victims of the arsons appeared in the courtroom Thursday afternoon to witness Wagle’s hearing. However, two of those people were escorted from the courthouse prior to the hearing after verbal outbursts and gestures were exchanged with Wagle, who was handcuffed on the jail inmate chain.

The judge found probable cause for Wagle’s arrest and set his bail at $150,000 cash only. Charges are to be formalized Tuesday afternoon in court. Wagle was also ordered not to have any contact with any of the alleged victims or property owners involved.

Wagle has a criminal history that includes possession of a handgun without a license, possession of marijuana and receiving stolen property, and he has served prison time in the Indiana Department of Correction.

Meanwhile, one of the cab drivers who assisted in the rescue of the children happened to live near the incident on South Seventh Street.

Steve Rickard and Rena Lallow were making a shift change when they saw what they thought was a fire inside a hallway of the home.

“Within seconds, it was engulfed,” Lallow told the Tribune-Star on Thursday. She said she called 911 to report the fire while she and Rickard went up to the house to make sure people inside were alerted to the fire. The first-floor occupants exited, but the second-story occupants were trapped.

“She came to the balcony with the baby,” Lallow said of the grandmother, “and her husband climbed over and hung on with one arm while he took the baby from her and dropped it to Steve. Steve caught the baby and handed it to me, and then Steve caught the 2-year-old and set it down.”

Lallow said Rickard also helped catch the woman when she jumped from the balcony, but she did not see the man jump to safety.

“We could see the balcony was ready to drop,” Lallow said. “I was trying to get them away from there.”

She took the four out to the cab and turned on the heat, where they waited while arriving firefighters battled the blaze. “They weren’t hurt, so we sat there for a while.”

Lallow said she has been employed at the cab company for two years, while Rickard has worked there several years. “He said to me, ‘I caught ’em real soft’ about the babies,” Lallow said, recalling her co-worker’s comments following the rescue.

The actions of those two employees has been applauded by coworkers at Terre Haute Cab Co.

“It was a very, very good deed,” dispatcher Alonzo Van Horn said. “They happened to switch shifts at the right time, and they saw the fire.”

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Top Story 2
  • Health Overhaul Subsi_Ter .jpg Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama’s health care law today, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Switzerland Obit Wint_Ter .jpg Blues legend Johnny Winter dies at 70 in Zurich

    GENEVA (AP) — Texas blues legend Johnny Winter emblazoned himself into the world’s consciousness with his tattooed arms churning out lightning-fast guitar riffs and his striking long white hair flowing from under his cowboy hat.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071609 BLUEBERRIES.jpg Scoop up some blueberries, live music

    Terre Foods Cooperative Market will present the sixth annual Blueberry Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, at Central Presbyterian Church, 125 N. Seventh St.
    Blueberry compote sundaes will be available for $5.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Emmy Nominations_Ter .jpg ‘Game of Thrones’ earns a leading 19 Emmy nods

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The sprawling and bloodthirsty saga “Game of Thrones,” defying the Emmy Awards’ grudging respect for such fantasy fare, emerged as the leader in the nominations announced today with 19 bids, including best drama series.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 033114 GREG ZOELLER MUG.jpg GREG ZOELLER: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Judge strikes down Kentucky's gay marriage ban

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge in Kentucky struck down the state's ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, though the ruling was temporarily put on hold and it was not immediately clear when same-sex couples could be issued marriage licenses

    July 1, 2014

  • APTOPIX Gay Marriage _Morg.jpg ACROSS INDIANA: The latest news after gay marriage ruling

    Pence: Marriage should be a state-by-state choice

    GOP leader: Supreme Court must act on marriage

    Some counties wait to issue gay marriage licenses

    Gay marriage opponents say they 'warned' of ruling

    Same-sex couples in Indiana hail equal treatment

    Indiana AG says it will appeal gay marriage ruling

    Judge strikes down Indiana ban on gay marriage

    1st gay couple marries legally in Indianapolis

    June 25, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Obama_Morg.jpg Obama: U.S. should have paid maternity leave

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers of newborns.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit-Ruby Dee_Ter .jpg Daughter: Actress Ruby Dee dies at home of 'natural causes'

    NEW YORK (AP) — Ruby Dee, an acclaimed actor and civil rights activist whose versatile career spanned stage, radio television and film, has died at age 91, according to her daughter.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mosaic Potholes _Ter .jpg Chicago man filling potholes — artfully

    The perfect pothole might not exist for many people — but for mosaic artist Jim Bachor, it’s one with a nice oval shape. Bachor began filling those potholes a little more than a year ago, after one in front of his house became a hassle.

    June 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • Staten Island Fire _Ter .jpg 34 injured in Staten Island fire

    NEW YORK (AP) — Fire tore through three townhouses on Staten Island early today, injuring 34 people including two young children who were tossed out of a smoke-filled second-floor window into the arms of neighbors below, authorities and witnesses said.

    June 5, 2014 3 Photos

  • Germany Van Gogh~s Ea_Ter .jpg German museum shows live replica of van Gogh’s ear

    BERLIN (AP) — A German museum has put on display a copy of Vincent van Gogh’s ear that was grown using some of the Dutch artist’s genetic material.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Heat Pacers Basketball Pacers keep hope alive with win over Heat

    Paul George and the Pacers got one win Wednesday night.
    Now comes the hard part: Winning an elimination game at Miami against LeBron James and the Heat.

    May 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 050414 PINK SHADOW.jpg Awareness advocates gather to ‘Paint the Town Pink’

    It is the color of the ribbon painted on the pavement at the corner of Sixth Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. It’s also the color associated with women and breast cancer.

    May 4, 2014 4 Photos

  • MERS Virus American_Tayl.jpg MERS-CoV: Mysterious virus found in Indiana

    Health officials on Friday confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 041314 PAINT PARTY.jpg Going purple: ‘Honoring those who are still fighting’ against cancer

    Every stroke of paint that touched the roadway had a profound meaning to a small group of painters on Sunday.

    April 13, 2014 4 Photos

  • Ukraine_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Tuesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, April 8:

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA Kentucky UConn F_Tayl.jpg UConn wins NCAA title, 60-54, over Kentucky

    No conference wanted them. Several teammates and their coach left them. The NCAA wouldn’t have them.
    UConn won it all anyway.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • TV-Letterman Retiring_Ter .jpg Letterman’s departure will reshape late-night

    NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Fallon’s fast start replacing Jay Leno on the “Tonight” show the past two months had a secondary effect: David Letterman suddenly seemed old.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Colts Owner Arrested _Ter .jpg Police: Colts owner had $29K in cash when arrested

    CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his vehicle when he was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, according to a police arrest report.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malaysia Plane_Ter .jpg UPDATE: Relatives sob as Malaysia confirms plane is lost

    BEIJING (AP) — Relatives shrieked and sobbed uncontrollably. Men and women nearly collapsed, held up by loved ones. Their grief came pouring out after 17 days of waiting for definitive word on the fate of the passengers and crew of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Chicago Train_Ter .jpg Train derails, climbs escalator at Chicago airport

    CHICAGO (AP) — An eight-car Chicago commuter train plowed across a platform and scaled an escalator at an underground station at one of the nation’s busiest airports early today, injuring 32 people on board, officials said.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snohomish Mudslide_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, March 24:

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NYC Explosion_Ter .jpg Searchers scour rubble after blast kills 7

    NEW YORK (AP) — Rescuers working amid gusty winds, cold temperatures and billowing smoke pulled four additional bodies overnight from the rubble of two Manhattan apartment buildings, as the death toll rose today, to at least seven from a gas leak-triggered explosion.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Film Casting Jesus_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Friday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, March 7:

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • US Obama Ukraine Russ_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Tuesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, March 4:

    March 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • 86th Academy Awards -_Ter (2).jpg ‘12 Years a Slave’ wins best picture at Oscars

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

    March 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET030114swope shaffer.jpg VIDEO: Mardi Gras at the Swope

    Teresa Shaffer was handing out beads and masks at the Swope Art Museum's Mardi Gras celebration Saturday night. The event is an annual fundraiser for the downtown museum.

    March 1, 2014 2 Photos 1 Video

  • Married Priest_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Friday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, Feb. 28:

    February 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Planet Bonanza_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, Feb. 27:

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began
NDN Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010