Owner of burned home facing felony charges for lying
Thomas Henry Kieft, the 56-year-old owner of a Muskegon home that was completely destroyed by a fire, is being charged with lying to officers during a violent-crime investigation.
According to the warrant issued just days ago, Kieft told police that someone threw a burning object into the two story house where he lived alone. But it appears that authorities are not convinced that this is the truth.
And given Kieft’s history, officers may not be entirely at fault for wondering. His record shows that in 1989 he was convicted on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance. In 1993 he was convicted on breaking and entering. In addition, there are current charges against him for resisting and obstructing a police officer and unlawful use of a 911 call. This most recent case was bound over for trial just last week in the Muskegon County 14th Circuit Court.
Police are still waiting on the laboratory final analysis to determine whether or not the cause of the fire was arson. But the investigation is ongoing, says Muskegon County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Timothy M. Maat.
The fire began in the early morning hours on April 2nd. According to the Muskegon Fire Marshal Major Metcalf, the porch was the first part of the home to catch fire. But the blaze spread quickly, and soon the entire wood-frame structure was engulfed by fire. Thankfully, no one was harmed.
Under Michigan law, lying to a police officer in a violent-crime investigation is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. However, because Kieft is being charged as a third-time habitual offender, the maximum is doubled to eight years.
If the investigation reveals that Kieft set the fire himself, he could face a lifetime in prison, as Michigan law punishes those convicted of first degree arson with possible life sentences. However, if it is determined that the fire was an accident, and Kieft lied to cover up clumsiness or a thoughtless act, he is less likely to face additional charges.