The importance of getting arson facts straight

Nailing down the exact cause of a possible arson case is crucial for all the parties involved. Not only does the victim deserve to know who or what cost them their property, but the perpetrator also deserves to be brought to justice. When the investigation process tries to cut corners, it can prove to be disastrous to innocent bystanders.


In early August, the Chicago Tribune reported a story about a man who had spent a quarter of a century behind bars, serving time for a crime that he didn’t commit. James Kluppelberg was only recently granted a certificate of innocence from the Cook County to overturn a wrongful conviction for an arson case that occurred in 1984.


Initially, the fire, which was responsible for the deaths of a mother and her five children, was deemed to be caused by undetermined factors and was likely an accident. Four years later, however, the investigation was re-opened after a suspect in a separate burglary who knew Kluppelberg said that he had confessed to the burglar about the arson in the past. Kluppelberg confessed to the arson after being severely beaten by Chicago police, who were operating under the guidance of former police commander Jon Burge, himself convicted for torturing suspects during his career.


Last year, the case was finally dismissed by state prosecutors after the burglar implicating Kluppelberg said he lied to gain leniency in his own case. Attorneys for Kluppelberg also brought up information that was previously concealed by prosecutors, including the testimony of a woman who confessed to setting arson to a building that same night just one block away. The woman said she was too drunk to remember whether or not she set the fire that was blamed on Kluppelberg.


A cavalier and corrupt investigation into this event cost one man 25 years of his life and cost the state $200,000, the amount of money Kluppelberg is entitled to for the wrongful conviction. John Michael Agosti & Associates realizes that it’s far more important to get the facts straight than to make up a useful story. When you want expert arson investigations that are built on almost three decades of experience, give us a call to schedule our services today.


*Image courtesy of Samantha Craddock