Woman charged with burning down her Monroe home

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A view of the fire-damaged Hunter Ridge Road home in late 2010, almost three years after the suspicious fire. The house has since been torn down. (Photo by Brad Durrell)

 

A former Monroe resident has been arrested for allegedly burning down her family home on Hunter Ridge Road in 2008 and then trying to collect insurance on the damage.

Amanda Azevedo, who had since moved to the west coast of Florida, was charged Jan. 23 with first-degree arson, criminal attempt to commit insurance fraud, and criminal attempt to commit first-degree larceny. Bond was $250,000.

Residents may be familiar with the house because it became a neighborhood eyesore after the fire, remaining in a burnt-out condition for about four years until the town finally acted to have it demolished. Hunter Ridge Road is a cul-de-sac near Cross Hill and Wheeler roads.

A known associate of the Azevedo family, Diniz DePina of Bridgeport, also was arrested on Jan. 23 in connection with the crime. DePina was charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit arson, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. Bond was $100,000.

 

House was a total loss

According to a Monroe Police Department press release, on Jan. 28, 2008, at 9:52 a.m., a resident of Hunter Ridge Road reported that her neighbor’s home at 62 Hunters Ridge Road was on fire.

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Another view of the Hunter Ridge Road house after the early 2008 fire. The female homeowner has now been charged with arson in the case. (Photo by Brad Durrell)

 

By the time police and fire personnel arrived on the scene, the house already was fully involved in fire. The town’s three volunteer fire departments, with the help of fire departments from surrounding towns, battled the blaze.

There were no fire hydrants on the street and water had to be brought to the scene by tanker trucks. Due to the lack of water and the windy weather conditions, the home was a total loss — although parts of the structure remained standing upright.

The homeowner and family were not home at the time of the fire and three of the family’s dogs were found roaming the yard and taken in by a neighbor.

 

No cause could be determined

The initial investigation by the Monroe Fire Marshal’s Office, with assistance from the Connecticut State Fire Marshal’s Office and Monroe Police Department, determined that the fire started in the front center of the home, but no cause could be determined. The case was presented to the State’s Attorney’s Office due to the suspicion of arson and the investigation remained open.

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The Hunter Ridge Road house as seen from the road before it was demolished. (Photo by Brad Durrell)

 

In late 2012, the cold case was examined by inspectors at the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Monroe Police Department’s Detective Bureau. A review of the evidence, including the insurance company’s fire reconstruction reports and further interviews, led to a re-evaluation of the entire case.

Based on this assessment and information gleaned from these interviews, homeowner Amanda Azevedo became the focus of the investigation.

Her late husband, Jao Azevedo, had been alive at the time of the fire but was not considered a suspect. He died on Dec. 17, 2010.

 

Police: Family had fallen on hard financial times

Police said the investigation revealed that at the time of the fire, Amanda Azevedo and her son were living in the home and that the family had fallen on difficult financial times, incurring large debt both personally and through the family business.

Amanda Azevedo relocated to the state of Florida shortly after the fire.

The Monroe police sought and obtained an arrest warrant for Azevedo early this year, and on Jan. 23 she was arrested in Clearwater, Fla. as a fugitive of justice.

On Feb. 5, after an extradition hearing in Florida, Azevedo was transported back to Connecticut by a Monroe police officer and State’s Attorney Office inspector. She was due to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on Feb. 6 to answer to the charges.

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