Man accused of setting fire in apartment with wife, baby inside

REYNOLDSVILLE - A Jefferson County man is facing arson and child endangerment charges after being accused of starting a fire in the bedroom of an apartment where his wife and their 2-month-old son reside.

Richard Sipes, 37, of the 1000 block of Grant Street, was taken into custody Tuesday night. He also is charged with risking a catastrophe and endangering the welfare of children.

He is in the Jefferson County Jail after failing to post 10 percent of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

According to a criminal complaint, Reynoldsville Borough police responded to a Grant Street house around 11:30 p.m. Jan. 4 for an alleged domestic incident.

The woman was holding her son and waiting at the front door of the apartment. She told the officer her husband had run away.

They went upstairs to make sure the fire was out, but it was filled with smoke. The officer called 911 and the fire company responded.

The woman told police that she and Sipes had been fighting, he left, and then returned around 11:30 p.m. She said Sipes started to kick the door, so she opened it and told him to get his stuff and leave. The victim then took her baby upstairs, where Sipes followed her and threw an ashtray at her, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, the woman said she heard Sipes lighting his Zippo lighter. She said he then set the bathroom on fire.

When she started to go back upstairs, she said Sipes ran at her, so she hit him with the extinguisher and knocked him down. The woman said she hit him several times while he was down so he couldn’t get back up, the complaint said.

The woman said she went back upstairs, hid the baby and put the fire out.

Police eventually located Sipes, who they said was threatening to kill himself and didn’t care who else died.

The three officers who responded to the scene saw Sipes in the vehicle with a knife to his throat.

Police eventually took Sipes to the station before taking him to Penn Highlands DuBois for an evaluation.

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