Details emerge in arson case

Police say fire set because of dispute over money

Willow Martin

Willow Martin

PROSPECT — A Naugatuck woman and Enfield man are facing a host of charges in connection with an arson in Prospect after police tied the pair to the fire through DNA on a potato.

Matthew Garguilo, 28, of Enfield, and Willow Martin, 19, of 208 Millville Ave., Naugatuck, have been charged with intentionally setting the Sept. 15 fire that destroyed the commercial building at 14 Waterbury Road, or Route 69.

The building, which housed a storefront for MTM Masonry and Chimney and the Golden Wok Chinese restaurant, had to be demolished. An accelerant sniffing dog brought in by the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Squad detected an accelerant in two spots inside the office of MTM Masonry and Chimney.

Police say the fire was set because Martin was upset with a former friend who owed her money, according to her arrest warrant. Martin and her friend used to work together at the Hollywood Connecticut Strip Club in Southington and were described as “best friends” in the warrant.

The warrant states Martin loaned her friend $1,200 to buy “bundles and clothes” while the two were on vacation in Wildwood, N.J. They had a falling out in August 2015 after Martin’s friend hadn’t paid back the money yet, the warrant states.

Martin’s friend is the step-daughter of the owner of MTM Masonry and Chimney, the warrant states.

When the owner of MTM Masonry and Chimney left his house in Naugatuck after learning about the fire Sept. 15, he found a potato stuffed in the tailpipe of his van, according to the warrant. He brought the potato with him and gave it to police on the scene.

DNA tests on the potato tested positive for Garguilo’s DNA on the state/national offender DNA database, the warrant states.

Garguilo and Martin were dating at the time of the fire, according to the warrant.

In May, police interviewed Garguilo in prison. Garguilo told police Martin texted him while she was working at the strip club and said she wanted to start the fire, the warrant states. He told police she had talked about it a couple of times before. He told police he didn’t want to do it at first, but was afraid she would find another guy so he picked her up, the warrant states.

The warrant states the pair took a hammer and gas can from Garguilo’s parents’ house in Naugatuck and headed to Prospect. Garguilo told police Martin entered MTM Masonry and Chimney with the gas can in hand through a window. He denied going inside the building and told police he hid near bushes, according to the warrant.

Matthew Garguilo

Matthew Garguilo

Garguilo said Martin told him she poured gas inside the business before lighting a napkin to start the fire, the warrant states.

When asked about the potato, the warrant states, Garguilo told police Martin wanted to put the potato in the van’s tailpipe because she heard doing so would blow up the engine. He told police he handed her the potato and saw her put it in the tailpipe.

Police attempted to interview Martin in May but she didn’t show up for a scheduled meeting, the warrant states. When police contacted her, Martin referred them to her attorney, according to the warrant.

Martin, who was being held at the Bergen City Jail in New Jersey on unrelated charges, was extradited to Waterbury this week and served warrants for both the arson and sticking the potato in the tailpipe.

She was charged with second-degree arson, second-degree conspiracy to commit arson, third-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary, conspiracy to possess burglar’s tools, possession of burglar’s tools, and two counts each of first-degree criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal mischief.

Martin was held on $110,000 bond and scheduled to be arraigned on both warrants Wednesday at Waterbury Superior Court.

Garguilo, who is currently incarcerated at the state Robinson Correctional Institute on unrelated charges, was charged July 7 with conspiracy to commit second-degree arson, conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary, conspiracy to possess burglar’s tools, and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal mischief.

He was held and is scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 4.