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Man Accused Of Intentionally Targeting Ex's Relatives In Arson That Left Paraplegic Woman Dead
The Delaware County DA said Aaron Clark "committed one of the most evil and vile acts I have ever seen."
A Philadelphia man is in custody after authorities say he set a home on fire, leaving a paraplegic woman to die in the flames, all because her sister broke up with him.
Aaron Christopher Clark, 30, has been arrested for nearly two dozen criminal counts — including first-degree murder — in connection with an alleged arson that left Olivia Drasher, 20, dead, as announced Wednesday by Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. The victim, who lived with cerebral palsy and was non-verbal, had no way of defending herself, as noted at the press conference.
“Aaron Clark has committed one of the most evil and vile acts I have ever seen,” Stollsteimer declared.
Police were called to the Darby Township home — just outside Philadelphia — on Sunday, shortly after midnight, in response to calls of a house fire, said Darby Township Police Chief Michael Sousa.
Sousa said responders were met with an “intense” fire on the front porch that “quickly spread” to the second floor. Residents who’d escaped the flames alerted responders to Drasher, and despite numerous heroic attempts to reach the woman, she could not be rescued.
“She was in the house, unable to move, unable to communicate as her body is being fried and as she’s choking to death because of the smoke,” said Stollsteimer, according to NBC Philadelphia affiliate WCAU. “All because Mr. Clark was angry about her older sister breaking up with him.”
Stollsteimer alleged Clark went on the attack when on Saturday, hours before the fire, the victim’s older sister — who was not named — had the “audacity” to try and end their romantic relationship.
Stollsteimer said Clark “physically assaulted” the older sister, and though officials didn’t specify the manner of the attack, online records show Clark is charged with strangulation.
Clark is also accused of sending threatening texts, according to court records obtained by CBS Philadelphia affiliate KYW-TV.
“Pick up before I do something crazy,” Clark allegedly texted. “Hope you don’t miss the big show.”
Police Chief Sousa said setting the home on fire with his ex's relatives inside was intentional.
“We have knowledge that Aaron [Clark] knew prior to setting this fire who was in this house,” said Sousa. “We know that he knew that the sister was in this house and was going to be unable to get out, which is just evil.”
The victim’s mother, Drena Drasher, was one of the victims in the home when the fire broke out, according to KYW-TV. She was treated for minor smoke inhalation.
“I don’t understand how somebody can be so evil,” said the mother. “I need him to burn in Hell.”
The CBS affiliate previously reported that Olivia Drasher’s caretaker was also in the home and suffered burns that required hospital treatment.
The caretaker’s condition was not immediately known.
Following Saturday’s alleged assault, the suspect’s ex-girlfriend reportedly notified both police and the U.S. Postal Service — where she and Clark worked. USPS accommodated the woman’s requests to adjust her work schedule so it wouldn’t overlap with Clark’s, according to Stollsteimer.
USPS workers also provided investigators with evidence against Clark after Sunday’s fire, the NBC affiliate reported.
Stollsteimer called the event an act of intimate partner violence “to the highest degree possible.”
“I have never seen anybody do something as heinous as what Mr. Clark did here,” he said.
Clark was taken into custody at around 6:30 Sunday morning, though according to Stollsteimer, the terroristic threats against the unnamed woman continued.
When officers were alerted to the ongoing threats, they addressed the suspect in their custody, who in turn allegedly attempted to attack police, according to the district attorney.
It was later revealed that Clark had hidden an Apple Watch in his rectum with the sole purpose of threatening his ex-girlfriend “after having killed her sister and attempting to wipe out her entire family,” Stollsteimer stated.
Arrest records show Clark is facing a host of charges, including one count each of criminal homicide, first-, second-, and third-degree homicide, arson, strangulation, simple assault, terroristic threats, harassment, stalking, and invasion of privacy.
He is also charged with four counts each of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and recklessly endangering another person.
It’s unclear whether Clark retained legal representation and when he is due in court.