Borough woman facing arson charge

Naugatuck firefighters work at a structure fire at 504 Prospect St. in Naugatuck Feb. 25. Raeann Goss, 75, has been charged with arson in connection with the fire. –RA ARCHIVE


WATERBURY — A 75-year-old Naugatuck grandmother was arrested Wednesday on charges that she intentionally set her apartment building on fire after she was served with eviction papers.

Raeann Goss had lived at 504 Prospect St. in Naugatuck until Feb. 25, when flames broke out inside her bedroom. In charging Goss with first-degree arson, authorities say Goss intentionally ignited the blaze while her landlord and his children were upstairs.

That family escaped the home after Goss’ son warned them about the flames. But as Goss was being led from her still-burning home, she told her landlord and his wife, “This is what you deserve,” according to Goss’ arrest warrant.

The warrant was released following her arraignment in Waterbury Superior Court. Goss now faces between 10 to 25 years in prison on the arson charge. Goss, who doesn’t have a criminal record, is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Naugatuck police were called to Goss’s home nine times since December 2009 for a variety of problems, including Goss not taking her medication “or feeling sick because she did not have cigarettes,” her arrest warrant states.

Court documents reveal that multiple witnesses told investigators that Goss had a gambling problem and was unable to make a monthly rent bill of $600. Goss’ son later told police that his mom went to the casinos instead of paying her bills, according to her arrest warrant.

Problems between Goss and her landlord, Manual Nobre, escalated after he served her with eviction papers.

Goss’ son and three other men helped Goss move her belongings out of the home, leaving only a mattress and a few pieces of furniture.

Goss’ son left his mother alone in the apartment for about 10 minutes, returning to find her bedroom was on fire. His mother was still in the kitchen, seemingly unfazed by the smoke filling the home, the warrant states.

Goss’ son led his mom out of the home, then banged on the landlord’s door, warning the family to get out of the house.

The flames were extinguished by firefighters, but not before roughly $100,000 in damage was done to the home, according to an insurance assessment.

Investigators suspected an accelerant was used in the fire, concluding it originated near a baseboard in Goss’ bedroom.

Goss was committed to Waterbury Hospital after the fire. When asked what could have caused the blaze, she eventually told police she lit her curtains on fire with a lighter.

When asked why she started the fire, Goss cursed and yelled at investigators, telling police “He can’t just throw an old lady out of her house during the winter.”

During the police investigation, Nobre also gave police a sketch that had been left on his car windshield on the day of the fire showing what appeared to be a devil leaving someone’s body. A caption above the image stated: “Demons and In-dwellings, a short course in demonology and exorcism.”

Goss was released from the hospital Wednesday after a 40-day stay and was taken to the courthouse.

She was led into the courtroom with a marshal at her elbow as she slowly made her way to a low table. Her hazel eyes starred at Judge Thomas O’Keefe through a set of large, black-rimmed glasses that sat above a fold of wrinkles.

A grandmother with three children of her own, Goss nodded her head slowly at times during the hearing. Although her family lives in Connecticut, none was in the courtroom for her arraignment Wednesday.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney John Davenport argued for a high bond in the case based on protecting the safety of the community.

Goss is expected to undergo a mental health exam to determine if she is competent to stand trial. She’s scheduled to return to court next week.

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