Police arrest PB man in arson of estranged wife's home

Monday, January 10, 2022

A Poplar Bluff man is in jail on arson charges after he allegedly tried to burn down his estranged wife’s home, and then returned to the property while law enforcement responded to the fire.

Tommy L. Rouse Sr., 44, of the 600 block of Carolyn Drive, is charged with the Class B felony of first-degree arson in relation to a fire that took place Friday on Wallace Street.

Poplar Bluff Police Patrolman Zachary Tubb responded at 8:20 p.m. Friday to a residence in the 1600 block of Wallace Street in reference to an alleged arson, according to police and fire reports. Upon arrival, Tubb contacted Poplar Bluff Fire Department Battalion Chief Stacy Harmon, who explained a suspicious fire was located at the rear of the residence.

Tubb said he was directed to the northeast corner of the residence, where he located a small section of burnt leaves near the foundation of the residence and also reportedly spotted fire damage on the siding of the house. Two occupants were inside during the fire, according to officials.

Officers said they spoke with the two tenants, a woman and her son. The woman said she went into the bedroom to go to sleep, but once she turned out the lights, she observed flames outside her bedroom window. Her son went outside and extinguish the flames, according to the probable cause statement.

Witnesses later reported Tommy Rouse Sr. was seen around 10:40 p.m. and smelled of gasoline, before changing his clothing. Rouse Sr. is the woman’s estranged husband. Rouse Sr. allegedly made death threats against the woman in the previous week.

Tubb made contact with the elder Rouse at a patrol car at the scene.

“I asked him what he was doing at the scene and he stated that he was checking on his wife because his son told him that someone tried to burn her house down,” Tubb wrote in police reports.

Tubb asked the elder Rouse to answer questions at the police station, which the man reportedly agreed to.

Rouse Sr. told officers, after being Mirandized, that he was at his residence that day and evening. According to police reports, once Tubb began questioning him about specifics of the fire investigation, the elder Rouse asked for an attorney.

Witnesses from the night of the incident said in addition to smelling like gasoline, the elder Rouse asked an individual to tell officers they were together for the entire night.

Residents of the home also reported finding a container of kerosene on the porch which was not there previously. They said the kerosene is typically stored in a nearby shed.

Rouse Sr. is being held without bond at the Butler County jail. He was slated to be arraigned Monday at the Butler County Courthouse.

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