PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A man charged in connection with an October 2014 fire that left six people dead in McKeesport appeared in court Friday morning.
Just as the judge was about to swear in a number of witnesses prepared to testify against him, Ryan Williams decided to waive his right to a preliminary. Now, the case will go to trial.
Prosecutors also added charges of arson: endangering persons, aggravated arson and cruelty to animals against Williams.
Williams’ attorney, Richard Narvin, would not explain his client’s decision, telling reporters, “You can infer what you wish about his decision. It was done after consultation with my client.”
Investigators say he allegedly lit a roll of toilet paper on fire and threw it on a living room couch.
Hope Jordan, 27, her four children – ages 2 to 7, and her 55-year-old father-in-law all died in the Oct. 18 fire at the home on Express Alley.
The sole survivor of the blaze was Jordan’s husband, 23-year-old Keith Egenlauf. Relatives said he suffered burns to over 55 percent of his body in the fire while trying to save his father.
Police say through the course of their investigation, they determined that “the fire was intentionally set.”
Police said Williams and Keith Egenlauf were both involved in a 2013 burglary. Keith got of jail early after cooperating with investigators.
But Williams remained locked up for nearly 10 months, later telling unidentified witnesses who have now come forward that he was upset with Egenlauf.
Authorities say Williams thought Egenlauf was the reason he had been locked up for such a long time, and he also believed Egenlauf was talking to police about the burglary which the two men were involved in.
According to the criminal complaint, after some heavy drinking, Williams told an unidentified friend, “I just set Keith’s house on fire. If anybody asks, I was here all night.”
The criminal complaint also says Williams believed Keith lived in the home alone. And when he learned of the children’s deaths, he began crying.