STRATFORD- In January, the historic Shakespeare Theater, in Stratford, burned to the ground. But, the investigation into who set the fire was rekindled thanks to a tip phoned in to the state police arson tip line. Now, the attorney for one of the three teens arrested, is speaking.
Frank Riccio, the attorney for 18-year-old defendant Vincent Keller, says his client did not start the Shakespeare Theater fire on the morning of January 13.
"The evidence, as I have seen it, which is limited at this early stage, would suggest that the other juvenile, with the initials CS, was the actual igniter of that fire," said Riccio.
Christopher Sakowicz, one of the two other teens arrested for Shakespeare fire, is the defendant about which Attorney Riccio was speaking. And, according to Stratford police, Sakowicz and Keller, initially told police they didn’t have anything to do at the Shakespeare fire. Then, they both came clean, with Sakowicz admitting he ignited it behind the stage.
And, the warrant says, both 18-year-olds told police they would be happy to let them search their cell phones because they wouldn’t find anything incriminating.
But, police say they did find incriminating texts. The warrant alleges Keller texted his girlfriend just after midnight, on the night of the fire, and said “good night we are going to burn down Shakespeare.” His girlfriend allegedly replied “oh fun don’t die.”
Police say, after the fire, Keller texted his girlfriend again, this time in all capital letters, writing “DO NOT TELL A SOUL ABOUT TONIGHT.”
The warrant says text messages confirm that on January 12, at 11:06 pm Keller texted another friend, Logan Caraballo, " We can go to Lowe's for something and light (expletive) on fire." The affidavit says Caraballo responded "be there soon. And he arrived to pick up Keller and Sakowicz at 11:18 pm.
Police claim Keller told the them that the three went to the Shakespeare Theater and entered through an unlocked rear door and went into the basement, where police say Sakowicz admitted to starting the fire.
According to the arrest warrant, Sakowicz was asked what he knew about other fires, including one at a business in Stratford, the Silver Sands State Park pavilion fire and two fires in West Haven. Initially, he denied involvement, but later in the affidavit, police contend he kept saying “You got me. You got your guy.”
Sakowicz and Keller also allegedly admitted to police that they stole items from trailers on the Silver Sands pavilion construction site and sold the items at a pawn shop.
But, Riccio says his client also will likely be implicated in the other fires, including a fire January 15 at the Southbury Training Center. In fact, Keller and Sakowicz are due in Waterbury Superior Court Thursday afternoon to answer to the Southbury charges.
All three were charged with Arson, Burglary, Criminal Trespass and Reckless Endangerment. Keller ($100,000) and Sakowicz ($175,000) have not posted bond. Caraballo is free on bond ($100,000).