Arrest made in attempted arson

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Police charge Elder after home doused with cooking grease

By Chris Sardelli

A fight between two men and a house doused in cooking grease led Lancaster police to arrest a man for trying to set a house on fire last week.

Dwight  Thomas Elder, 60, of Lancaster, was arrested April 20 and charged with attempted arson, according to a Lancaster Police Department incident report.

Officers made the charges soon after responding to a disturbance in the 700 block of Miller Street at about 10:30 p.m. There they spoke with Elder and another man, and officers noted Elder appeared to be intoxicated, the report said.

The other man, who was about 40 years old, told officers that Elder started an argument with him, became irate and then began causing damage inside the house. The man then watched as Elder poured an oil-like substance, later identified as cooking grease, around the house and tried to set it on fire with a lighter and a small piece of paper, the report said.

The officers noticed the house was in disarray, with chairs overturned, items scattered on the floors, shattered windows and an oil-like substance in the hallway and a bedroom. An officer also recovered an almost-empty bottle of what appeared to be cooking grease, the report said.

An officer noted in the report that Elder was “generally uncooperative with officers and difficult to speak with,” though Elder eventually said he was angry with the other man for not paying bills. When asked about the incident, Elder denied trying to set the house on fire, the report said.

Police found two lighters and a partial lighter on Elder when he was arrested.

Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant said attempted arson is a felony charge and Elder could face up to a year in jail.

“He (Elder) did everything but set the house on fire,” Grant said. “So this is a serious charge.”

A $5,000 surety with proof bond was set for Elder, but he remained jailed at the Lancaster County Detention Center as of Wednesday afternoon, April 25, according to a Municipal Court judge.


 Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416