Polydelphia Playhouse Theater
March 6, 2001
1. A scrap of cloth.
2. A sample of blood.
The exterior door is the door believed to have been used by the arsonist. It appears
that the arsonist's clothing caught on the rusty edge of the door and a small
piece of red cloth was found on the ground outside the door. Fibers of what
appears to be the same material were found on the rough edges of the door. The arsonist also
appears to have recieved a cut due to blood being found on the door edge. Blood drops
were found on the street. We also discovered bloody fingerprints on the outside
wall of the theater.
In my observations at the crime scene, Neil Peckinpaugh was wearing
a dark brown shirt, jeans, and a gold wind jacket. When I walked past his car
I noticed that he had a red jacket draped over the front seat. Ric Harris was wearing a red silk shirt
with black trousers. Javier Sanchez was wearing a white shirt and jeans. Buster Kidman was
wearing a blue shirt with a red cotton jacket. I also noticed that Wanda Williams
had a red shirt on when she was being lifted into the ambulance. It might have been wool.
Upon arrival at the scene, Mr. Peckinpaugh gave me consent to search the theater
for evidence. He seemed very cooperative, as did everyone else that I questioned.
I first questioned the theater owner, Mr. Neil Peckinpaugh. I wanted to find out
if he would benefit from the fire. I then questioned the first fireman on the scene,
Mr. Bill Bleam. It was important to find out if the scene was secured correctly. I
also needed to know what led the firemen to believe arson was involved. The third
person that I questioned was Mr. Buster Kidman, the janitor. Mr. Kidman seems to know
everything that goes on behind the scenes in the Polydelphia Playhouse Theater. I
also questioned the other people that were in the building at the time of the fire.
Owner: Neil Peckinpaugh
1. Do you have insurance?
Yes. I am insured with Polydelphia Property and Life Insurance Company.
2. How long have you had insurance?
My father insured the theater with Polydelphia Property years ago. I kept the
same policy. It was transferred to my name when I inherited the building.
3. Have you increased the coverage during the last year?
Yes. My insurance agent stated that I needed to update my policy and the coverage was
increased six months ago. The theater was insured for $100,000. My agent said that
wasn't enough. I raised it to $500,000 which is the current value of the building.
4. Where were you at the time the fire started?
I was at home. I had planned to stop by the theater later in the evening to
see how the rehearsal was going.
5. How did you find out about the fire?
Buster called me.
6. Do you have any known enemies?
No, not that I know of. I've been in a bad mood lately, but we have all been
worried about the success of this play. The theater really needs this play to be a hit.
7. Have you had to fire any of your employees or lay them off?
No, but we had a meeting a few weeks ago and I told them that it was very important
that this play was a success. The theater hasn't been doing very well the last two
8. Who has keys to the building and all the doors within it?
I have keys. Buster, the janitor has keys, and the director, Ric Harris, has a
set of keys.
9. Is it normal to store costumes in the dimmer control room?
No. Combustible items are never stored in the room. It would be a fire hazard.
First Fireman on the Scene: Bill Bleam
see fire report
1. What was the situation upon your arrival at the theater?
The electric dimmer room was on fire. There are two entrance doors to the room,
one is an entrance from the alley outside the theater and the other is an entrance
from the backstage. One person was injured. There were about five people standing
outside the theater.
Click here to see a blueprint of the theater.
2. Were the doors locked? How did you get in?
We had to use the axe to hack into the door to open it. Both doors were locked.
The exterior door does not have a doorknob. You must use a key every time it is
3. What evidence did you see that made you think that arson was involved?
After we broke down the door and put out the blaze, we noticed a pile of
what looked like clothes at the bottom of the dimmer packs. This was
obviously a fire hazard. Buster, the janitor, said that clothes were never
left in the dimmer room.
4. When did you secure the scene?
As soon as the fire was put out, the building was taped off and a list of names
of witnesses was compiled. We then waited for you to arrive.
The person that Called the Fire Department: Buster Kidman
1. Where were you when the fire started?
I was sweeping at the back of the auditorium.
2. When did you realize that there was a fire?
I heard Wanda scream, "Fire!" very plainly. There was a big commotion on the stage.
Everybody was running around like they didn't know what to do. Smoke was filling up
the stage. I started to run to the stage, but I stopped and ran to the back of the
building where the payphone is, and I called the fire department. I heard Wanda
screaming a few seconds later that she was burned. I told the dispatcher that
I thought someone was hurt and to send an ambulance.
3. What time did you report to the theater today? What is the specifications of your job?
I usually come in about 3:00 PM. That's what time I was here today. I mostly clean
up the theater. Theater people seem to be messy, you know. I sweep the stage and backstage
areas almost every day. A few times a year I wax the stage floor and clean the carpet
in the lobby. Sometimes I have to fix things. I have learned how to fix almost any
problem that this place might have. I've been here for a long time, you know.
4. Did you see anyone else here today when you came?
No. I unlocked the doors myself, but, you know, come to think of it, I thought I heard some
people talking on the stage after I walked in. I wasn't sure if I really heard anything or not.
My hearing isn't real good, you know. I walked down to the stage, but I didn't see anything
and all the lights were off. I thought that it was just my imagination, you know.
5. Did you recognize the voices?
6. Do you believe it was more that one voice? You said "voices".
I'm not sure. My first thought was that someone was arguing, but it's hard to tell.
7. Who has keys to the building?
Mr. Peckinpaugh has keys, of course. I have keys, and Ric the director has keys. I've
seen the actors and stagehands using Ric's keys to get in the storage room upstairs.
I know they are his keys because he has this funny looking keychain with some kind of
fuzzy, yellow thing on it like kids have.
8. Does anyone ever have access to your keys?
No. I keep my keys clipped to my pants.
9. Was anyone mad at Mr. Peckinpaugh?
Not that I know of. He is usually very friendly. Lately, he has been a little upset and
grouchy. The theater hasn't been doing very good the last few years.
The Director, Ric Harris:
1. What time did you arrive at the theater today?
I arrived at 6:00 PM.
2. Did you see anything unusual in the theater when you arrived?
3. Do you have a set of keys to the theater?
4. Did you give them to anyone the day of the fire?
5. Do you normally give them to the other workers?
Occasionally, I allow someone to use my keys to retrieve an item from the
storage room on the second floor when it is inconvenient for me to retrieve it myself.
6. When was the last time someone borrowed your keys?
Yesterday, Mr. Sanchez borrowed my keys. He and Wanda were to check the costumes
and see if any needed cleaning.
7. How long did they have your keys?
I would guess about three hours. I left the theater for a while.
8. How many people have access to the dimmer control room?
I do, of course. Mr. Peckinpaugh and Mr. Kidman also have keys to every door in the building.
9. How often does anyone go in the dimmer control room?
Usually about once a day if we are practicing, sometimes two or
three times a day if the play is running.
10. Whose job is it to go into the dimmer control room?
It is normally Mr. Sanchez's job to make adjustments and check the controls. He usually
uses my keys every time. Mr. Peckinpaugh needs to have another copy of the keys made for
11. Who besides Sanchez has the knowledge necessary to make adjustments to the dimmer packs?
I'm not sure. I have some knowledge, but I prefer to have Mr. Sanchez to take care of this.
Mr. Kidman knows everything about this theater. I wouldn't doubt that he has the necessary
knowledge. Mr. Peckinpaugh also knows how to work everything in this theater.
The Stage Manager: Javier Sanchez
1. Whose job is it to adjust the controls in the dimmer control room?
It is my job.
2. How do you get in the room? Isn't it locked?
I usually borrow the keys from Ric when I get to the theater.
3. Do you lock the door back?
I am supposed to, but sometimes if I know that I will need to get back in the room later I
leave it unlocked.
4. Have you seen anyone else in the room?
5. Who besides you has the knowledge to adjust the dimmer packs?
Since I have been here, I have been the only one, but I think that I remember that
Mr. Peckinpaugh said that he knew everything about this theater. Ric said he knows how, but
he never goes into the room. Wanda has been worried about her job. She has been learning
as much as she can about everything works behind the scenes. She thinks that if she can
do other jobs, she will be more useful.
6. Wanda Williams, the actress, has been learning how to adjust the dimmer packs?
Yes. She's kind of slow though. I don't think she actually learned anything, but I tried
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