Duluth contractor accused of setting fire to clients’ duplexA Duluth concrete business owner is accused of setting fire to a duplex owned by people who refused to pay him the money they owed him because the work he did was not up to city code.
By: Mark Stodghill , Duluth News Tribune
A Duluth concrete business owner is accused of setting fire to a duplex owned by people who refused to pay him the money they owed him because the work he did was not up to city code.
Adam Leroy Seavey, 34, was arraigned Tuesday in St. Louis County District Court on a first-degree arson charge. He is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $50,000 bail.
Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Rebekka Stumme submitted a memo to the court stating that Seavey has a long criminal history and that the victims of the arson have expressed extreme fear of the defendant. The victims — the two duplex owners and their two downstairs tenants — are identified in Seavey’s criminal complaint by their inititals.
According to court records, Seavey’s criminal history
includes convictions for assault, violating orders for protection, obstructing legal process, and sale and possession of marijuana.
According to the criminal complaint, Duluth police and firefighters responded to the duplex on East Eighth Street at
12:39 a.m. Friday on a report that it had been set on fire.
The duplex owners told police that they had contracted with Seavey’s concrete company to create a retaining wall for their detached garage in their backyard. However, when the wall was completed the city determined that permits had not been obtained for the work and it was not up to code. The duplex owners were told they would have to remove the concrete wall and that the project would cost $8,000.
Seavey had contracted to build the wall at about $18,500. The duplex owners refused to make payment.
The complaint alleges that they began to receive harassing telephone calls and threats from Seavey. They appeared in court attempting to get a restraining order.
Seavey allegedly waited outside the courthouse after the hearing and told a duplex owner that the cameras he put up on his house couldn’t “(expletive deleted) protect him” and that he was going to damage his property.
One of the duplex owners told police that Seavey was wearing the same clothes outside the courthouse as the masked man who approached his residence and set the fire.
Investigators reviewed video obtained from the duplex. It showed a suspect approaching the wooden front steps with a container in his hands. Its contents appear to have been poured over the wood stairs attached to the building, then lighted with what appeared to be a lighter.
When flames rose the suspect ran away. A resident grabbed some flour and attempted to extinguish the fire. A neighbor responded with a chemical fire extinguisher.
The property previously had been damaged on Dec. 4 and documented by police. The suspect in the video from that incident appeared to match the stature and physical description of the suspect who set the fire. Two residents told police they recognized the man as Seavey.
Police found a boot print in the victims’ yard and it appeared to match the boots Seavey was wearing when taken into custody.