AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The Summit County Prosecutor's Office and Akron law enforcement announced that Stanley Ford, the man already accused of a fatal arson that killed seven people in May, is now connected to a separate deadly arson on Fultz Street.
Margaret Scott from the Summit County Prosecutor's Office said that Ford, 58, is responsible for the death of nine people in two separate house fires.
"The Grand Jury indicted Ford on 27 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges," said Scott
According to officials, Ford set fire to a home on Fultz Street in April 2016. Lindell Lewis and his girlfriend Gloria Hart died of smoke inhalation after their home was intentionally set ablaze, according to investigators. Ford was announced as the suspect during Thursday's press conference.
Ford is currently being held in jail for setting fire to a home that neighbors his on Fultz Street on May 15. The fire resulted in the death of five children and two adults. He pleaded not guilty to the crimes after his arrest in May, but is currently being held on a $7 million cash bond.
"In the two fires, the victims were trapped and overcome by smoke with no way to escape," said Scott.
Ford's charges include:
- 22 counts of aggravated murder
- 2 counts of attempted murder
- 2 counts of aggravated arson
- 1 count of cruelty to animals
- 1 count of arson
- 1 count of menacing
If convicted of the crimes, Ford will be eligible for the death penalty.
Officials at the press conference emphasized several times the severity of Ford's alleged crimes.
Scott said, "Never before in Summit County history has one man been charged with the murders of nine people."
Akron Police Chief James Nice said, "This is the worst crime, the worst case in the history of the city."
Ford is also being charged in connection to a car fire that occurred on Russell Avenue on Jan. 23. There were no injuries reported in that incident.
A motive for the arsons has not been revealed yet. Days after the May fire, investigators searched Ford's home and removed several items from his residence, including gas cans. Ford spoke to Orlousky while investigators were on the scene.
"They trying to associate me with this fire and I don't know nothing about it," Ford told Orlousky.
Ford continues to deny his involvement in the incidents.
"He steadfastly has denied any involvement in any of these cases," says lead investigator Kris Beitzel.
Investigators are still determining whether Ford is responsible for any other arson-related incidents in the area.