Saturday, October 11, 2014
Falls man headed to trial on arson, stalking, other charges
Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014
Hours before a Middletown woman’s ex-boyfriend allegedly attempted to set her home on fire, he showed up at a Falls campsite looking for her.
The 51-year-old woman testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday that her ex found her that night. After he told her that they were soulmates, she told him she didn’t want to be with him.
He then told her she had to die, she testified during the hearing for Patrick Mongeau, 50, of Falls, who is accused of assaulting her and setting a June 1 fire in her backyard that damaged her home and destroyed a motorcycle.
“Why do I have to die?” the woman said she responded, which she said prompted Mongeau to grab her neck and twist her head until she fell on the ground. He ran away after the woman’s date heard the commotion and confronted him, she said.
On the witness stand, the woman described her nearly yearlong relationship with Mongeau as on-again, off-again.
After she broke up with Mongeau for good in September 2013 — kicking him out of her Quaker Hill Road home for the last time — she said his harassment and stalking escalated even after repeatedly asking him to stop showing up at her house.
“Did he listen?” Bucks County prosecutor Antonetta Stancu asked.
“No, he’d find a reason to show up at my home,” she replied, at times becoming visibly upset on the stand.
The woman added that the harassment got so bad she implemented a “lockdown” procedure with her four children for when Mongeau showed up uninvited.
The woman’s stepson, who was 17 at the time, testified Wednesday that around midnight the day of the fire, an angry Mongeau showed up at the house looking for his stepmother.
The stepson testified he immediately called the woman to tell her Mongeau had showed up at the house, and he might be headed to Penn Warner Club, a recreation area in Falls, to find her. Next, he put the house in lockdown, he said, and stayed up until about 3:30 a.m. keeping watch while the three younger kids slept.
The woman testified that Mongeau showed up at Penn Warner and knocked on random doors until he found her camper. She went outside to try to calm him down and, at some point, he forcibly kissed her and the confrontation escalated to the assault, she testified.
Falls police were called and an arrest warrant was filed against Mongeau, who had left the scene by then.
The woman said she returned to her home before 7 a.m. the next morning and immediately noticed something was wrong. Her backyard gate was opened and there was evidence of a fire. The woman also said she noticed a gas can she kept in the unlocked shed was missing.
Middletown Fire Marshal James McGuire testified that his investigation determined the fire was intentionally set, and started by the rear sliding glass doors. A paper match was found near where the fire started, he added.
The fire pattern showed a flammable liquid left a trail of fire damage across a piece of outside carpet near the sliding glass doors, around the motorcycle, along a fence and across a backyard fire pit, McGuire said.
Middletown Detective David Strother Jr. also testified that while police were investigating the fire, Mongeau rode past the house on a bike and was immediately taken into custody.
Strother said Mongeau said he went looking for his ex-girlfriend at Penn Warner and was assaulted by her new boyfriend. After the confrontation, Mongeau claimed he went to a nearby bar until it closed, then home, where he remained until 8 a.m.
Strother testified he saw no physical injuries on Mongeau, but did detect a strong odor of gas on his shoes. Testing confirmed the presence of gasoline, prosecutor Stancu said.
The detective also found a book of matches, a lighter and cigarettes in Mongeau’s pockets, and a Wal-Mart receipt that placed Mongeau in the store shortly before 5 a.m. the day of the fire. Store video surveillance confirmed Mongeau was in the store at that time, Strother said.
Following testimony, District Judge John Kelly Jr. held Mongeau for trial on all charges including multiple counts of arson, reckless burning, criminal mischief and simple assault. He remains in Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $50,000 bail.
Kelly also refused a defense request to lower Mongeau’s bail, adding that he believes it should have been set at a higher amount.
“I must have been in a good mood that day,” Kelly added.