Youngstown house, site of suspected arson-murder, inches closer to demolition

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Powers Way fire_56332

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Neighbors in a south side Youngstown neighborhood are a bit closer to seeing a tragic eyesore demolished.

The house on Powers Way is where prosecutors say murder suspect Robert Seman set a fire that killed three people last March; something neighbor Jean McCammon hasn’t been able to forget.

“I look out every morning and I still see them working in the yard and tidying up,” she said. “I just loved them dearly.”

Jean is referring to Bill and Judy Schmidt, who lived right across the street from her for years. They died early in the morning on March 30th, along with their granddaughter, Corrine Gump. Their house has sat this way ever since.

Prosecutors believe Seman set fire to the house to prevent Gump from testifying against him on a rape charge.

“If it was accidental, it would be different, but intentional?” McCammon said. “You know that’s harder to take for a human being to see the tragedy unfold in front of your eyes and then look out every morning and see it happening again and again.”

Had Seman been convicted, he would have faced life in prison without parole. Now he’s also charged with three counts of capitol murder.

His attorneys asked to hire their own arson investigator to look through the house to see if there might be any evidence they can use in Seman’s defense. Lawyers confirmed that the inspector was at the house on Tuesday, but could not discuss the case any further.

In the meantime, neighbors have been waiting for this eyesore to be torn down.

“You feel a certain sadness about it…The horror of the deaths and it’s just very, very sad,” McCammon said.”I feel that the family will have some peace of mind, to know that this tragedy is kind of behind them.”

But there is still something she would like to see remain: an old tree. McCammon believes it would allow neighbors to remember happier times, of the Schmidt’s working in the yard.

Seman is due back in court for a pretrial next week.

WYTV is told Judge Maureen Sweeney could sign an order to demolish the house early next month.

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