A 43-year-old woman faces 30 charges, including second-degree murder, for allegedly setting a home on fire, which killed a 75-year-old man.
According to a statement, on Feb. 15, 2022, Altoona Police and Fire Department officials responded to a fire at 118 E. 5th Ave. after an occupant escaped out of a second-story window and called for help at a neighbor’s house. Three firefighters were injured while extinguishing the blaze, and officials located a deceased male in the home.
An autopsy revealed the man died from smoke inhalation, and a search at the home showed there were traces of accelerants at the foot of the stairwell.
Altoona Police said detectives learned Heather Evans was seen leaving the home right before the fire.
The next day, on Feb. 16, Evans reportedly commented on a chicken coop at 310 11th St. that she felt needed to be removed. Police said the coop was “engulfed in flames” minutes after she left.
Then, on March 3, a garage on Crawford Avenue caught on fire.
Altoona Police said physical evidence allegedly placed Evans at the scenes of the last two fires in addition to being seen at the 5th Avenue home. She was arrested Feb. 7 on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated arson, burglary, causing and risking catastrophe, and more. Court records show she also faces charges of cruelty to animals and recklessly endangering another person.
WJAC-TV identified the victim who died in the fire as Mark Stewart.
According to the affidavit cited by WJAC, following the chicken coop fire, investigators reportedly found a note with a drawing of a pentagram and the message, “Depart from me and my loved one ye cursed into everlasting fire.”
Investigators reportedly discovered a similar note at the garage fire.
WJAC reports Evans said she set the coop and garage ablaze and left the notes behind because it was “part of her being a white witch.”
She allegedly told police she is a meth addict and when she uses it, she believes she’s the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Evans is being held at the Blair County Jail without bail.