PRESS RELEASE FROM ONEONTA CITY BUREAU OF POLICE

On Saturday December 29, 2018 at about 4:21 AM the City of Oneonta Fire Department and the City of Oneonta Police Department responded to a report of a structure fire at 5-7 Walling Ave., Oneonta, NY.  As a result of the fire, John. D. Heller, 38, of Oneonta lost his life while rescuing others including young family members.  An immediate investigation was initiated by the Oneonta Fire Department Fire Investigation Team, Oneonta police Department with New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control taking the lead.

On Sunday December 30, 2018 the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control determined that all accidental causes for the start of the fire had been eliminated.  The City of Oneonta Police Department then requested assistance from the NYS Police as this was now a criminal felony investigation.  As a result of the combined efforts of the City of Oneonta Police, New York State Police, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and the Oneonta Fire Department Fire Investigation Team and after consultation with the Otsego County District Attorney;

Terrence Truitt, 34 years old of Oneonta, NY (photo above)

Has been charged with Arson in the 1st Degree, a Class A-1 felony.

Mr. Truitt was arraigned in the City of Oneonta Court and remanded to the Otsego County Correctional Facility pending further court proceedings.

As the investigation continues, the District Attorney will make recommendations as to the additional charges.

This investigation is ongoing and very active.  Over 70+ leads have been followed with more still being investigated; anyone with any information is asked to contact the Oneonta Police department at (607) 432-1111, through nixle tip line, or the Oneonta Police Department's social media site on Facebook.  Tips and information may be anonymous.