FARRELL – A pair accused of arson in connection with a December fire that destroyed a daycare center were in Magisterial District Judge Mary A. Odem’s court Friday.
Dustin Lovell Morrow, 31, of 506 Emerson Ave., Farrell, waived 48 charges of conspiracy to commit arson, causing a catastrophe, trespass and reckless endangerment to Mercer County Court of Common Pleas.
He was taken back to Mercer County Jail on $250,000 bail.
Odem ruled to continue the preliminary hearing to Feb. 20 for Anna Teresa Santana-Benavides, 27, of 506 Emerson Ave., Farrell, charged with conspiracy charges of arson, causing a catastrophe, trespass and reckless endangerment.
The commonwealth requested the continuance due to new evidence that must be sent to the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab for evaluation.
The blaze at Caring 4 Kids Daycare Center, at 841 Sharon-New Castle Road, caused more than $1 million in damage.
The Farrell, Sharon, Brookfield and Hermitage fire departments responded at 2:07 a.m. Dec. 21 to a report of a commercial fire at the daycare center. The building was vacant at the time.
A state police K9 trained in accelerant detection hit on areas inside the building, police said.
Surveillance footage shows a SUV matching the description of a vehicle owned by the building’s owner, Colon Santana, and frequently driven by his daughter, Santana-Benevides, next to the building. The video then shows a person unlocking a steel door facing Sharon-New Castle Road and entering the daycare center.
After that, there was an explosion that caught the building on fire. The video then shows someone running back to the vehicle, getting into the front passenger side and leaving the scene, according to the police report.
Police said Colon Santana, who has insurance on the building, was in Mexico at the time of the fire and that his daughter had access to the key to the building left in his Farrell home.
Police also obtained video surveillance from an Ohio hospital that shows Morrow and Santana-Benavides together as he was admitted for severe burns, according to the police report.
Santana-Benavides is free after posting $250,000 bond and awaits her preliminary hearing in the Farrell district court.
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