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Man facing arson, harassment charges for Grant Avenue apartment fire

Morgantown police and fire marshals filed charges against a Morgantown man in relation to a Nov. 28 fire at a Grant Avenue apartment.

The Morgantown Fire Department responded to the fire at 511 Grant Ave. at about 2:18 p.m. and, once extinguished, called the Fire Marshal Division to investigate.

At the time, firefighters reported finding a mattress on fire inside the apartment.

According to court documents, the investigation revealed an incendiary fire, pointing to arson.  Further investigation revealed Todd William Riley Jr., 25, of Morgantown, had allegedly “made multiple threats to burn down the apartment.”

Investigators discovered that Riley had been involved in an argument with his girlfriend and her cousin earlier that day on Spruce Street. A criminal complaint says during that argument, Riley “threatened to burn down the apartment” where he and his girlfriend lived, which was the 511 Grant Ave. residence.

Court reports say a neighbor told investigators that Riley had visited them that day at around 1:50 p.m. and stated he was going to burn down the apartment.  At 2:02 p.m., that neighbor sent a text message to another neighbor stating, “he about to burn her house down.”

A second neighbor told investigators that at around 2:05 p.m. Riley was removing his personal belongings from the Grant Avenue residence and storing them temporarily in their apartment and that “he had a few more things to get.”

The witness said at about 2:13 p.m. Riley returned stating, “the apartment was on fire,” the complaint said.

The evening of Nov. 28, court documents say Riley willingly went to the Morgantown Police Department for an interview; however, investigators were still on-scene conducting other witness interviews.  Riley asked to be released from the interview room, “stating he was drunk.”

Investigators contacted Riley later that evening and scheduled an interview for 9 a.m. the following morning. However, the complaint says, Riley did not show up to the fire administrator’s office until about 10 a.m. and no investigators were available at that time.  The interview was rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. that same day.

The 1:30 p.m. interview did not happen either because, according to reports, Riley was unable to appear “as a result of self-inflicted stab wounds that admitted him into Mon General Hospital.”  He was released later that day “via a taxi ride to a family member in Maryland.”

Investigators were able to contact Riley by phone on Nov. 30.  At that time, he stated he did not have transportation to meet for an interview.

According to the complaint, when Riley was advised that it was important for investigators to get his side of the story, he became agitated, stating, “the investigators could take this to court, and he would beat this one like he did the last one.”

The complaint says no communications with Riley took place after that Nov. 30 phone call.

Riley was allegedly sending threatening messages and videos to his girlfriend’s cousin and mother.

According to a separate criminal complaint, an MPD officer had recently spoken with Riley’s girlfriend’s mother who reported that Riley was sending her harassing texts, including one that stated, “if you talk to the cops, tell them I didn’t do it.”

The complaint says the mother also received a selfie of him holding a handgun.  The messages were allegedly meant for the girlfriend, however she “did not wish to file a report or cooperate with an investigation.”

Similar messages were received by the girlfriend’s cousin, who provided officers with a conversation between her and Riley on Facebook Messenger.

According to the complaint, Riley sent an unsolicited four-second video clip, “which depicted Riley holding a small silver and black handgun and then pointing it at the camera.”

The cousin responded, “why send that,” to which Riley allegedly replied, “you guys will find out.”

Officers asked why he sent that to her and she said Riley was upset with her because she was trying to get him to leave her cousin — Riley’s girlfriend — alone.

Riley is charged with felony first-degree arson and sending harassing and threatening communications, a misdemeanor.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment Monday and is currently being held at North Central Regional Jail on $20,000 bond.  A preliminary hearing is scheduled in Monongalia County Magistrate Court on Dec. 22.

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