- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - An 18-year-old man intentionally set fire to an apartment complex in Fairbanks last winter to cover up a murder, police said.

Detective Peyton Merideth said Conar Lee Groppel set the fire Jan. 29 to cover up the death of a resident there, Kristina Pence, 39. The fire also killed another resident, Jane Connolly, 50, and left 50 people displaced.

Groppel was also injured in the fire and treated at a Seattle burn hospital. He was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month, and the jury handed down more counts last Friday in a second wave of indictments, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://is.gd/PRTXmF ). He faces charges of murder and arson.

Merideth declined to say how Pence was killed, citing the ongoing investigation.

He described Groppel and Pence as acquaintances, but declined to say what Groppel was doing at the apartment building that night.

Groppel’s mother, Jessica, previously told the newspaper the teen was visiting a friend when the fire started about 3:45 a.m.

Groppel has pleaded not guilty, and is being held without bail at the Fairbanks Correctional Center.

Online court records indicate Groppel has a public defender. A message left by The Associated Press with the public defenders’ office in Fairbanks wasn’t immediately returned Thursday morning.

___

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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