An Oneonta man is charged with felony arson in connection with the deadly fire December 29 that claimed the life of a former volunteer firefighter.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)
Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

During a late-afternoon news conference January 2, Oneonta Police Chief Douglas Brenner announced the arrest of 34-year-old Terrence Truitt in connection with the fire that left 38-year-old John Heller dead.

Heller was unable to escape his apartment after assisting his fiancee, three nephews and another young boy get out.  One of the children was treated for burns.

The fire on Walling Avenue was reported at around 4:20 a.m. and fire investigators quickly ruled out accidental causes.

Chief Brenner says Truitt apparently did not have any connection to the house, Heller or anyone in the apartment.  Truitt, however, did have a past criminal record according to Brenner.

Truitt is being held in the Otsego County Jail.

The investigation is on-going and anyone with information is asked to contact the Oneonta Police Department at (607) 432-1113.

Heller had been a volunteer with the Oneonta Fire Department from 2003 to 2009.

Funeral services will be held January 4 at 1 p.m. at Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center.

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