MERRICK, Long Island (WABC) -- Authorities on Long Island are investigating a suspicious fire that destroyed a house under construction early Tuesday morning.
The flames broke out around 3:45 a.m. at the home on Yale Road in Merrick, where a family is scheduled to move in soon. The blaze was so intense it melted the siding of a nearby home and destroyed two cars.
But even after the flames were extinguished, it was speculation that kept going about that family.
According to a flyer posted in the neighborhood, the new tenant is a married former school teacher named Danny Reilly. But he is also a level 2 sex offender who spent only a few months in jail after pleading guilty to having repeated sex with a sixth grade student.
Neighbors, many with children, were not happy when they heard he was moving to the area.
"So as you can imagine, I have two teenage girls and a little boy," neighbor Carrie Burlock said. "So nobody wants to live near somebody like that, because it's unsettling."
But was someone so upset that they were willing to risk lives? That's what police and fire marshals want to know, and it's what the builder believes. Jonathan Miller tells Eyewitness News he had no clue until two weeks ago, because Reilly's wife put everything in her name.
"Us and the neighbors all found out at the same time," Miller said. "We've been working on resolving the situation, and someone obviously took it too far."
Meanwhile, a young couple set to move into another newly constructed house built on the same lot came to inspect their damage. Their home was somewhat charred, but spared in the fire.
"Perhaps looking around through different people's homes, if there's any security cameras," said Ron Luparello, with the Merrick Fire Department. "And if there is somebody to prosecute, I am sure they will."
About 4.5 miles away on another street in Merrick where Reilly and his family have been living for four years, neighbors say that whatever his status may be under Megan's Law, one crime should never justify another.
"I think that's terrible," neighbor Gail Lynch said. "I mean, they don't bother anybody."
Suspicious fire destroys Merrick home before sex offender can move in
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