COAL TOWNSHIP — A Coal Township couple face felony arson charges after police say they burned down their house on the same day they listed it for sale.
Brett, 27, and Jennifer Stahl, 35, were arrested Tuesday after a state police fire marshal reported an accelerant was found in the first floor of their home at 950 W. Pine Street during the course of a fire investigation.
The Stahls face several felony arson charges along with several counts of felony criminal conspiracy and a felony charge of causing or risking a catastrophe.
Both appeared before Shamokin District Judge John Gembic and were sent to Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $75,000 cash each.
The fire started March 20 just two months after the couple purchased an insurance policy in January in the amount of $140,000 with an additional $70,000 for content.
At the time of the fire, police said the Stahls had $92 in their bank account. Brett Stahl purchased the home on July 24, 2018, for $10,000, according to police.
During the investigation, a Danville Realtor allegedly told police the Stahls met with her on March 19 to sign the paperwork and the house was to be listed for sale on March 20, according to police.
When the Realtor arrived at the home to take pictures she found only two air mattresses inside along with a coffee pot and some cups, police said.
The Realtor told police there was nothing on the first floor of the home, according to court documents.
The Realtor told police she received a message from the Stahls on March 21 informing her there had been a bad fire at the home, police said.
Jennifer Stahl told police that the evening of the fire she was in Selinsgrove shopping and looking for rental homes, police said.
Brett Stahl told officers the couple was in Selinsgrove shopping and went out to eat when they got a phone call the home was on fire, police said.
Investigators said they received March 20 video footage from a neighbor that showed the Stahls arrived at their home at 3:10 p.m., went inside and left 11 minutes later. Investigators say at 5:21 p.m. the Stahls were shown returning home and the children were outside playing while the Stahls were inside. The Stahls left 1 hour and 40 minutes later and 39 minutes after the family left the property the fire ignited, according to police reports. The fire was called into Northumberland County 911 by a neighbor at 8:05 p.m., police said.
State trooper Kirk Renn investigated the fire and said he used a carbon detector and received alerts near the entrance of the home. Renn said he began to collect evidence from a small hole in the living room and he collected two pieces of wood from below the hole in the floor.
Renn sent the material to be tested and in May the results showed an accelerant, medium petroleum distillate was identified. Renn said the probable cause of the fire was believed to be that someone poured combustible liquid onto the floor within the living room, dining room area and possibly the front porch.
Neither of the Stahls were employed at the time of the fire, police said.