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Montco DA Announces Arrest of Alleged Arsonist

(from a press release)

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, Upper Moreland Township Police Chief Andrew J. Block and Lower Moreland Police Chief David J. Scirrotto announce the arrest of Sean Gahagan, 56, on multiple felony arson charges as well as risking catastrophe and other charges.

The criminal charges are related to fires that occurred on Dec. 29, 2023, at a commercial business in Upper Moreland Township and on a residential property in the Huntingdon Valley section of Lower Moreland Township.

At approximately 8:45 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2023, firefighters and Upper Moreland Police were dispatched to a fire at JG Transmissions, an auto mechanic shop at 616 Davisville Road. Upon arrival, they found the commercial building engulfed in flames, with the worst of the fire centered around the front office area of the building.

Just 15 minutes before, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Lower Moreland Police were called to a residence on Huntingdon Pike for a shed fire on the back of the property. The fire was put out by police using with a fire extinguisher prior to the arrival of firefighters.

An investigation into the cause of the fire, which completely destroyed JG Transmissions and caused limited damage to the shed, found that both fires were intentionally set. Inside the shed, fire investigators found a can of fire-starting fluid and a can of “Gum Cutter,” which is a highly flammable product used to clean various parts of automotive engines. The fire investigators also found that “Gum Cutter” is a product used by JG Transmissions.

A joint investigation by Upper Moreland and Lower Moreland Police found that Gahagan, a former employee of JG Transmissions, had visited the business at 10 a.m. on the day of the fire asking for work, but was told none was available.

At the time of his unannounced visit, Gahagan was wearing a hooded camouflage jacket and driving a red Chevrolet Cobalt. Detectives secured surveillance video from the 600 block of Davisville Road captured a Cobalt type vehicle parking at a business near JG Transmissions, then showed a male running from the car toward JG Transmissions and running back to car about six minutes before the fire was reported to 911.

Surveillance video from near the residential fire also captured Gahagan’s vehicle just before the fire was discovered. Additionally, license plate readers nearby captured the vehicle’s license plate, which was matched to Gahagan’s vehicle.

Sean Gahagan

On Jan. 1, 2024, Lebanon City Police arrested Gahagan for trespassing inside a church. At the time of his arrest, Gahagan was wearing a camouflage jacket that matched the subject’s jacket seen in surveillance video running from the fire at JG Transmissions.

Gahagan, of Lebanon, is charged with first-degree felony arson, as well as six other felony counts of arson, risking catastrophe, burglary, theft by unlawful taking, criminal mischief and possessing an instrument of crime.

He was arraigned on Jan. 19, 2024, by Magisterial District Judge Denise Ashe, who set bail at $500,000 cash, and Gahagan was remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. A bail review hearing is scheduled in the Court of Common Pleas for Jan. 26, 2024.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Jan. 29, 2024, before Magisterial District Judge Thomas P. Murt. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant Chief of Trials Tanner Beck.


Philadelphia Man Accused of ‘An Act of Pure Evil’ Charged With Murder in Fatal Darby Fire

A 30-year-old Philadelphia man who allegedly set a fire at a Darby Township house that killed his ex-girlfriend’s disabled sister is being held without bail on murder charges.

“The horrific fire that occurred in Darby Township on Sunday morning was an act of pure evil. A young woman afflicted by cerebral palsy, who we understand had been lovingly cared for by her mother and her sister, lost her life in one of the most agonizing manners imaginable. A life has been lost, and a family home has been destroyed. We grieve for her and her family, and we pledge to use every tool available to us to ensure that the suspect, in this case, is brought to justice,” said District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

Aaron C. Clark faces first, second, and third-degree murder charges; arson; aggravated assault; reckless endangerment, and other counts in the fire that occurred around midnight on Dec. 4 and destroyed a house on the 600 block of Sharon Avenue. Police charged him in a separate complaint with harassment, terroristic threats, and resisting arrest.

Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Bennett Preston said Olivia Drasher, 20, died of smoke inhalation and burns. While other family members and Drasher’s nurse, who suffered burns, were able to escape the inferno Drasher, who needed a wheelchair, died in her first-floor bedroom. The fire was set on the front porch just outside her window.

Olivia Drasher

Drasher’s older sister, Amira Rogers, went to the police on Dec. 3 to report Clark was sending her threatening text messages and saying that he would post indecent pictures of her on social media sites. Because both Rogers and Clark worked for the Postal Service, she also filed a complaint with postal inspectors.

Later that day, while in custody, Rogers and her family told police that Clark was still sending them threatening messages, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Police tried to search Rogers, who struggled and spat on them. After he was subdued, they found an Apple watch hidden in his rectum.

The Drasher family created a GoFundMe account to help with expenses that Rogers set up.

Rogers wrote that the fire was set by “an evil psychopath and my little sister, Olivia Drasher, who is disabled and has cerebral palsy, was killed. She was only 20 years old. Her nurse, Ms. Sharon, was burned and inhaled smoke while trying to save Oliva. My mother was able to save Raquelle Drasher, Olivia’s twin sister. But my baby sister, Olivia, could not make it out. My family has lost everything. This man was harassing me where I work at the post office because I did not want to be with him anymore.”

“…he set our house on fire while my family was in their beds. We are working with the police to get justice, but we are now homeless. Due to Olivia’s medical condition, we were not able to obtain life insurance for her yet. But we never thought we would need it anytime soon because she was only 20 years old. My mother, Drena Drasher, is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a Philadelphia Police Officer in the 1st District. She worked so hard to provide for her family and build her dream house, all for it to be burned away by a demonic human.

“My family and I are devastated by the loss of our Olivia, and we need all your thoughts and prayers. The money for this GoFundMe will be used to pay for Olivia’s funeral services and burial and also to help us find a new home. We don’t have anything but the clothes on our backs.”

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