Ohio Arsonists ‘Light Up’ in Pool of Gasoline

December 11, 2006

It’s not easy being an arsonist. Just ask Musa Shteiwi and his son Essa who had a clear criminal vision for their Steak Thyme Subs eatery: They wanted to torch the West Chester, Ohio food outlet for insurance money. But they lacked a basic job skill: Nobody knew how to set a decent arson fire. Not even their hired arsonist.

After four botched attempts, Musa and Essa never saw a nickel of insurance money. They were dead from a gasoline explosion, and arsonist Joshua Hunter was in jail.

Jordanian-born Musa and Essa had promised Hunter a $60,000-dollar-a-year job if he’d burn down the place. Hunter agreed. The hapless torch tried to set three fires over the next six weeks in the summer of 2006, but never figured how to get a good blaze going.

One time he tossed a harmless Molotov cocktail through a window. Another time Hunter doused four chairs with a flammable liquid and set them on fire. The blaze quickly died and caused only minor damage.

Musa and Essa played dumb as word got out about the repeated fires. “I don’t know who would do this,” Musa told local 9News with a straight face. But they stuck with Hunter despite the screwups, and ordered a fourth blowout just 12 hours after Hunter’s hapless assault on the chairs.

They decided to make the job so easy that even Hunter couldn’t botch it: They went inside and spread gasoline around themselves. Hunter only had to come in later that night and start the fire.

But tragically, Musa and Essa had less arson talent than even Hunter: The pair took a smoking break—while standing in a pool of gasoline. They lit up their cigarettes, igniting an explosion that burned both men over 80 percent of their bodies and buckled a wall of the restaurant. They died within weeks. Hunter soon pleaded guilty to his part in the plot, and faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Topics Ohio

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.