XENIA — The wife of a Xenia firefighter was found guilty of misdemeanor arson Wednesday in Greene County Common Pleas Court. Erika VanDyne, 36, of Xenia, was found guilty by Judge Stephen Wolaver, of misdemeanor arson and felony tampering with evidence after VanDyne pleaded no contest to the charges last week.
VanDyne’s no contest plea was part of a plea deal that had an aggravated arson charge and an inducing panic charge dropped.
Wolaver will sentence VanDyne for the two charges Feb. 10, 2016, according to online court records. VanDyne could face up to 3.5 years behind bars for the charges.
The charges were in relation to a small fire that investigators have alleged VanDyne set earlier this year at a Xenia KinderCare location where she was employed as a preschool teacher.
According to Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller, fire crews were called to the learning center twice on March 3.
“There was a first call [that] was over what turned out to be a liquid spill,” he said when VanDyne was first charged. “The fire department cleaned it up and then were called back out again that morning because there was smoke coming out of a storage room and there was a small fire. It was put out with a fire extinguisher before the fire department got there.”
Haller said the fire was considered suspicious because of where it was located. According to Haller, the liquid referenced was some sort of accelerant.
“It appeared it was the same accelerant or the same liquid that they had got called out for earlier,” he said. “It appeared to have been how the fire got started.”
Damage from the fire was minimal, but 29 children and 10 adults were evacuated from the building.
Erika VanDyne is the wife of Xenia Fire Department Lt. Josh VanDyne, according to Greene County Probate Court records.
According to a corporate spokeswoman for KinderCare, VanDyne was placed on administrative leave in March and was subsequently terminated from her position.