Hamilton Police Say Fire That Led To Wolterman's Death Was Arson
Hamilton officials say arson is to blame for the fire which lead to the Dec. 28 death of Fire Fighter Patrick Wolterman.
Public Safety Director Scott Scrimizzi says the investigation is ongoing and Wolterman's death will be handled as a homicide.
Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit says Wolterman's death hits close to home.
"Every loss of life resulting from a criminal act receives our best investigative efforts, but this case is different," Bucheit says.
"It's different," says Bucheit, "because it involves the loss of a fellow safety service member in Fire Fighter Patrick Wolterman. It's different because we know how devastating this loss has been to Patrick's family, his fellow firefighters, and our entire community."
Bucheit won't comment on the investigation other than to say police will pursue every lead.
"We have an entire task force dedicated to solving this," Bucheit says. "It includes the Hamilton Fire Department, the state Fire Marshall, the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), the Butler County Prosecutor's Office, and CrimeStoppers."
A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the identification and conviction of whoever is responsible for the fire. Buchiet says the Hamilton Police Department and the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee are making money available for the reward.
Bucheit says the family who lived in the home on Pater Ave in Hamilton has returned from vacation and are cooperating with the investigation. He says tips have been and continue to come in and police are following up on all leads.
He would not offer any further details.
On Monday, Dec. 28, police and fire officials responded to a house fire. Wolterman entered the burning building in response to a report that someone was trapped inside. That report turned out to be false. He fell through the floor into the basement.
At the funeral on New Year's Eve, Hamilton Fire Chief Steven Dawson said that ,“out of respect for his service,” Wolterman’s badge number – 89 – will be retired.
Wolterman was also posthumously awarded the Hamilton Fire Medal for Meritorious Service and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 20 Medal of Valor.