CRIME

Centerville couple involved in home invasion, attack and fire describe the events

Jul 25, 2022, 6:43 PM | Updated: 7:28 pm
A Centerville couple is recovering after they lost their 35-year home to a fire in what they say is...
Centerville couple interviewed about the events that took place at their home. (Lindsay Aerts KSL NewsRadio)
(Lindsay Aerts KSL NewsRadio)

CENTERVILLE, Utah — A Centerville couple is recovering after they lost their 35-year home to a fire in what they say is a random, brazen home invasion.

Bethanie Schmucker and Clarence Newman, both in their early 70’s, describe being punched and kicked by a man after he had entered their home and lit their back deck on fire. The fire eventually engulfed all but the brick of their house.


 

The intrusion

Schmucker said their garage door was open Thursday midday when the man walked into their home office.

“I saw the gas can and I got up from my chair, and I said what are you doing in here?” Schmucker said. “Then he said, ‘I’m just going to burn this house up.'”

Schmucker said the man left at one point, but then came back in, swearing and looking for the couple. Schmucker was on the phone with the police.

“He saw me on the phone with the police and that’s where he hit my mouth and broke my teeth,” she said.

Schmucker says the man then made his way through the kitchen, out to the back deck where he lit the fire, then back into the house. Her husband was watching TV in the bedroom.

Newman describes the moment he saw the suspect.

“This individual comes through the door with a gas can, spread the gas all over the floor and me, and said, ‘I want your money or I’m going to burn your house down,’ said Newman.

Trying to fight back

Newman said he took a swing at the man with a water bottle.

“And I just hit him in the side of the head, I think it really pissed him off,” he said.

According to Newman, the man then left and walked down the hall. By the time Newman was able to get up and leave the room he describes seeing his wife on the ground in the hallway, and the man taking aim at him.

“He had hit her again, and then he hit me. After it happened I thought he had dislocated my jaw because when I shut my mouth my teeth wouldn’t line up,” said Newman

Newman said he was kicked a few more times before the man left.

Getting out of Centerville home

Newman and Schmucker say black smoke filled the bedrooms as they were trying to crawl to safety. They also had to work to get to Beth’s father, Mike, who was also living in the house. Schmucker says he was unharmed, physically.

After all three were able to get out, Newman said there was an explosion.

“(I) was standing there between the motorhome and the house and all the sudden I hear this crashes and the windows get blown out of the deck up above, flames blowin’ out,” he said.

“Totally random” attack

Newman said he has never seen the suspect before in his life.

“There’s no doubt in my mind he was possessed,” he said, “Whether it was with drugs or the devil or whatever, I feel bad for him because I don’t think if he was in his right mind this would have happened.”

Newman and Schmucker also says they’ve heard rumors from the people in their neighborhood accusing them of knowing the suspect.

“It’s just not true. It’s just crap,” Newman said.

Schmucker said a neighbor had seen the man in their driveway.

“So I think our garage was (just) open,” she said when asked why their home might have been the one broken into.

What’s next?

The home is a total loss. Newman says he built the house 35 years ago.

“I was building it for my kids,” he said through tears. “So they’d have a home.”

Newman has three adult kids, Schmucker is their step-mom.

They’ve set up a GoFundMe and say homeowners insurance won’t be covering the amount the couple now needs.

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Centerville couple involved in home invasion, attack and fire describe the events