A Ritchie County man has been arrested for arson after troopers said he set fire to a garage because “voices made him do it.”
On Wednesday, February 13, troopers with the West Virginia State Police Department were alerted to a possible arson complaint involving a vehicle and a building on Hazelgreen Road. While on their way to the scene, troopers were advised that the suspect, Randy Bartram, 41, of Smithville, was possibly armed with a large knife that was placed up his sleeve. Troopers were also advised that Bartram had been making threats to burn down additional buildings and kill the people inside of them, according to a criminal complaint.
Upon arriving on scene, troopers said they observed a mid-nineties model Pontiac Firebird engulfed in flames and a garage behind it that appeared to be on fire. Troopers then located Bartram on the porch of a mobile home across from the burning garage.
Troopers began approaching Bartram and ordered him to remove his hands from his pockets. Bartram refused troopers’ orders and asked them what they were doing at his residence, according to a criminal complaint. Troopers said they then advised Bartram that they were there because of the burning car and garage.
Bartram then stated, “the voices made me do it,” according to troopers. Troopers said they ordered Bartram to remove his hands from his pockets, or he would be tased. However, Bartram refused troopers’ orders and was tased, troopers said. Bartram showed no response to being tased and jumped from the porch, troopers said. Troopers then tased him a second time and were able to forcibly place him into handcuffs, according to a criminal complaint.
Upon a pat-down of Bartram, troopers said they recovered hypodermic needles and other drug paraphernalia, along with a package of uncooked bacon wax from his possession.
Troopers said they assisted the responding EMS crew place Bartram in an ambulance for evaluation. A witness told law enforcement that Bartram stated he was going to burn down other buildings and kill everyone if nothing was done. Bartram was then transported to Camden Clark Medical Center where he was evaluated and medically cleared before he was transported to North Central Regional Jail, troopers said.
Bartram has been charged with first degree arson.
On Wednesday, February 20, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office released a press release stating that the garage Bartram set fire to belonged to his estranged ex-girlfriend.