Police: Palmerton man set fire to wife’s home — (The Morning Call)

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The Morning Call

By Chris Parker of The Morning Call

June 29, 2005

Lower Towamensing Twp. property destroyed. He faces an arson charge.

A Palmerton man whose estranged wife said his temper flared when he changed antidepressant medications burned down her Lower Towamensing Township house Monday after an argument about their impending divorce, police said.

The fire, extinguished by several fire companies, destroyed the home but no one was injured, police said.

Thomas G. Heiney Jr., 37, of 840 Lafayette Ave. ­ who allegedly had promised his wife the divorce ”would get nasty” ­ was arrested Tuesday afternoon after a police search.

Heiney was arraigned by District Judge Edward Lewis in Jim Thorpe on a charge of indirect criminal contempt for violating a protection-from-abuse order and jailed under $50,000 bail.

Heiney also will face arson, criminal mischief and other charges, state police at Lehighton said.

Heiney was under a protection-from-abuse order that forbid him from going near his wife, Beverly Heiney, 52, or her home at 1780 Dairy Road, police said.

Thomas Heiney set the blaze at 7:55 p.m, shortly after the couple quarreled about their divorce, police said.

In addition to setting the fire, he smashed the windows out of a vehicle parked at her home and drove through the front yard, damaging a fence and the handle of an antique well pump, police said.

Police said Beverly Heiney had called them earlier that day, saying her husband had violated the abuse order by making harassing telephone calls, coming to the home at 4 p.m. and trying to get into her place of business, an office attached to the home.

Thomas Heiney also called police to say that while he was at the house, he did not ”hurt his ex-wife” and therefore should not be charged with violating the order, police said.

Police advised him he would, indeed, be charged.

A ”very short time later,” police said, the house was set on fire and the vehicle, pump handle and fence were damaged.

A neighbor saw Thomas Heiney’s black sport utility vehicle, leaving the property, police said.

Beverly Heiney was granted the protection order by Carbon County Court on Oct. 22.

She filed for the order Oct. 7, saying Thomas Heiney had left her but became enraged when she went to dinner with another person.

The couple had been separated for two months at the time, she wrote in the request.

On Oct. 6, she wrote in the request, her 6-foot, 4-inch, 255-pound estranged husband called her ”over and over, threatening me if I didn’t come home,” and waited in her driveway. He also told her ”he isn’t leaving the home, he paid for it, and he will not have me in a good situation. I was told to bring all the help I needed because it was going to get nasty.”

Beverly Heiney said her husband threatened her, broke into her home and trashed it ­ breaking business machines she used in her home office and repeatedly slamming a bedroom door on her as she searched for one of her small dogs that was hiding, according to the request.

In the request, Beverly Heiney wrote that Thomas Heiney ”is under medical care for his temper.”

He had requested a change of mood-altering medication and ”is now worse than ever,” she wrote.

The protection order is in effect until April 7, 2006.

Thomas Heiney was not available for comment Tuesday.

chris.parker@mcall.com    610-379-3224