Indiana Man Freed From Arson Charge

February 23, 1999

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) -- A man who has maintained for several years that he had nothing to do with the fire that killed his wife and four children was freed after arson charges were dismissed. 

Michael Weber, 44, was released Monday after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms questioned the arson ruling by the state fire marshal's office. 

``Hopefully, now there will be more cooperation in trying to find out what happened,'' Weber said. ``I feel if these people would have put as much effort into working with me as they did to try to prove me guilty, we might have found out the truth, whether it be arson or accident.'' 

A request from prosecutors to dismiss the charges in the 1994 mobile home fire in Hebron was approved by U.S. Magistrate Andrew Rodovich. 

Weber's attorneys were informed by prosecutors Friday that a new review of the case by ATF concluded the state's arson ruling ``is not supported with reasonable degree of scientific certainty.'' 

In addition, dismissal of the charges was prompted by two witnesses who said they saw Weber in Wisconsin in the hours before the fire. Weber, a truck driver, had said all along he was on the road in Wisconsin at the time that his wife, Marsha, and children, ranging from 9 months to 16 years, were killed. 

Weber called news conferences to proclaim his innocence and offered explanations ranging from gang activity to a police cover-up. 

U.S. Attorney Jon DeGuilio promised a further look into the fire. Weber had been jailed since Dec. 17. 

``We do intend to conduct an aggressive investigation in the hopes of getting at the truth of the matter,'' DeGuilio said. He said ATF investigators ``are not saying it was not arson. They're simply questioning the way the conclusion was reached.'' 


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