Next court date: Aug 10, 2022 – Final pre-trial conference (held online), in preparation for the trial currently set for Oct 3-…, 2022. More court info

New Material:

Was the Meadows Apartments fire a violent gasoline fire, or simply a ‘small,’ alcohol-drip, carpet fire accident?

Ronald Wayne Makin, a resident, was accused, detained and arrested on the night of the fire, May 19-20, 2018.

Was Ron Makin a malicious villain, or a caring hero?

Though Ron Makin was accused, detained and arrested for the fire,

  • There is NO footage of Ron on or near the property within 10+ minutes before and after the fire ignited, nor any witnesses claiming to have seen Ron there around that time.
  • At the time the fire ignited, Ron was witnessing a thoroughly-documented legal event half a mile away, which he could not have known of or described to the officers that night if he had not been there and seen that legal event.
  • There is NO evidence that even approaches “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Ron was involved in contributing to or causing the fire.
  • Ron made no attempts to flee. Ron was not concerned on the night of the fire when he was arrested, because he believed that all of the surveillance and other evidence would exonerate him and prove his innocence.

Investigators claim it was a gasoline fire, but

  • No one reported smelling gasoline inside the building at any time, before or after the fire.
  • The fire was OUT before fire fighters arrived!
  • The fire did NOT burn with the ferocity and duration of gasoline. There was NO fireball! There was almost no damage. The fire did NOT flash with searing heat, violently explode, or present a propelling shockwave as is consistent with gasoline.
  • Curiously, there has NOT been any footage provided or witness of anyone (including Ron) entering or exiting the fire area—with or without a container of liquid—after Ron exited that area at 10:08 and before the fire alarm activated at 11:47. That is a 1-hour 40-minute gap where a flammable liquid was spilled and ignited but supposedly where no record exists of anyone having entered the area to distribute or ignite that liquid!
  • No forensic report has suggested that gasoline residue was present in the evidence samples collected at the scene.

Watch Utah’s ABC 4 News with Marcos Ortiz’s coverage of this case, one year after the incident. Read the full story and view the video at https://www.abc4.com/news/the-justice-files-good-samaritan-becomes-suspect-in-apartment-fire/. Or, to only watch the video, click the play button below at the video’s lower-left corner.

Here’s all of the provided building surveillance footage that the Prosecution has provided to Ron’s Defense (as of Aug 2022). Out of a total of 15 indoor cameras and 2 outdoor cameras, the Defense has footage from only 4 indoor cameras, and key footage from those 4 cameras has been withheld which would exonerate Ron:

All of the Meadows building surveillance footage provided by the Prosecution.

The investigators claim it was a gasoline fire, but here’s an actual gasoline fire near Detroit, Michigan:

[Unmute player to listen.] An unrelated fire in Michigan, showing the power of an actual gasoline fire. Or view it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwaAIHaQk9o

Investigators and Prosecution claim Ron started the fire in person. Yet, the Prosecution has not provided ANY evidence, video, or testimony substantiating that Ron was on the property around the time the fire ignited. Building footage shows that Ron left the building prior to the fire and did not return until the fire alarm sounded, and other evidence shows that he was not on the property when the fire ignited.

Investigators and Prosecution claim gasoline was used in the fire and that the gasoline came from a container in Ron’s truck. There is NO indication or evidence that Ron—or anyone else—transported any liquid (flammable, or not) in any container from Ron’s truck to the scene of the fire. There is NO forensic report stating that gasoline was used as the accelerant of the fire. The Defense has not received such a report.

And if it was a gasoline fire, why didn’t anyone report smelling gasoline inside the building, hear an explosion, or feel the tremor, which gasoline consistently presents? Why isn’t there any provided surveillance footage of anyone entering the fire area to distribute the gasoline, ignite the fire, and escape injury-free? Someone must have poured or spilled a flammable liquid through the fire area sometime between 10:10 and 11:47, but where is any footage of that person or anyone else entering or exiting that area within the rational time period of the fire ignition and fire alarm? The Defense has not received any record of anyone entering the fire area within that time range.

A few minutes after the fire alarm activates, Ron Makin knocks on a deaf & blind resident’s door, then starts extinguishing what little remains of the hallway fire, which mostly extinguished itself. Footage from this camera is the only fire footage provided by Prosecution. (Note: We’ve cut some of the video here to focus on when the door is open, to view the state of the fire.)

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Case’s Main Points

  1. Event: A small fire on a carpet in a public hallway and stairwell of the Meadows Apartments (285 E 1450 N, Bountiful, UT), for low-income, disabled residents. The fire was only a few inches in height, at most!
  2. When: Evening of May 19, 2018.
  3. Without forensic evidence, investigators implied it was a gasoline fire. The actual evidence disproves their claim.
  4. Investigators claim, without evidence, it was arson, but the actual evidence disproves their claim.
  5. Investigators and Prosecution have not provided any building surveillance videos, forensic findings, testimonies or any other evidence to plausibly indicate that Ron Makin was in any way involved in starting the fire or that he was even around the building at the time of ignition.
  6. Investigators accused Ron Makin of starting the fire, contrary to all the overwhelming facts that Ron had nothing to do with it.
  7. Ron accidentally spilled gasoline on himself two hours (~9:45pm) prior to the fire, at a church parking lot while moving jugs around in his truck, to fill jugs with drinking water at the church’s water well. Ron’s defective pacemaker shocked him as he exerted himself, causing a painful muscular spasm as he tried to move a partially-filled gasoline jug (having an unsecured lid), causing him to spill gasoline on himself.
  8. Ron smelled like old gasoline residue, due to the gas spill just mentioned.
  9. Ron is mentally and communicatively challenged. Investigators therefore claimed that his narrative of his actions that night seemed inconsistent and didn’t make sense to them, so they charged him with obstructing justice.
  10. Ron was charged with Aggravated Arson and Obstructing Justice. Court Case #181701041: “STATE OF UTAH vs. RONALD WAYNE MAKIN”

News Coverage

News articles about the Meadows Carpet Fire case:
  ABC 4 Marcos Ortiz 2019 article (one year after fire)
  KSL news article

A Carpet Fire?!

There was minimal fire damage. It was just a relatively-minor carpet fire, definitely not indicative of arson and definitely not indicative of a gasoline fire.

The only access into the area of the fire—the north, upper hallway and adjacent stairwell—is from the south (mezzanine common). The stairwell exits to the outside through a one-way door that can’t be opened from the outside. Notice in the image below that the supposed arsonist “seems” to be right-handed, incapable of committing arson on the left side of the hallway or the inner edges of the stairwell.

Investigators’ diagram of fire damage, on the 2nd floor and stairwell down to outside. We’ve added the compass, the “EXIT” label to outside, and the self-locking, one-way door that can’t be opened from the outside.
The most ferocious visuals of the fire (of the provided footage) in the hallway. (The fire in the adjacent stairwell fully self-extinguished.)

Surveillance of the Fire Area (Cam15)

Notice that the record received from the Prosecution is incomplete. Ron is shown passing through the pre-fire area at 10:07pm then at the building’s main door at 10:10, but the next provided footage—1 hour 40 minutes later—of the fire area is at 11:47 when the fire alarm activates, after the fire has been burning for a while. Obviously, someone spilled a flammable liquid in that hour-and-forty-minute gap through the fire area, but there is no provided footage to indicate that anyone entered or exited the area.

More audio and video records—including ALL building surveillance footage provided—are linked at the bottom of this homepage.

2-Stage Combustion

The Meadows Carpet Fire event was a 2-stage combustion/incineration event. First, the light, low-molecular weight, clean-burning flammable liquid, alcohol, liquor, or its equivalent, ignited and initially burned with a non-luminescent, smokeless flame (essentially invisible) and provided the energy to then begin to scorch, melt, fraction and incinerate the high-molecular weight plastic flame-resistant, dirty fuel, petroleum-based, polyethylene carpet and the debris trapped within it. The thermal energy provided by the first fuel was the contributing (forcing) energy to drive the melting, cracking or fractioning of the carpet plastic, which then burned with a dirty, sooty fume, as opposed to the initial fuel which was clean-burning but low energy. As the initial fuel was consumed and had dissipated, there was no longer any thermal contribution from the initial fuel to drive further incineration of the carpet (and its debris) as the secondary fuel. Then the carpet flames unsustainably and easily self-extinguished. Hence, the accumulation of soot on the walls, which were never even warmed to a temperature which would prevent condensation of that filthy fume, from the carpet or any debris contained therein.

That is, in this case:

  • Stage 1—An alcohol-like flammable fluid ignited and burned cleanly (no unsafe fumes or dirty smoke). It had enough energy to incinerate and ignite the carpet within a few inches of the flammable fluid, but the fluid soon burned off.
  • Stage 2—The burning, flammable fluid ignited the nearby petroleum-based plastic carpet and its debris. The incinerating plastic carpet and debris created smoke and soot. The carpet and debris could be incinerated but could not sustain its own fire and therefore self-extinguished. (The few patches of flames that Ron extinguished were simply those areas where greater volumes of the flammable fluid had been deposited and absorbed by the carpet material).
  • The north stairwell, with its vertical chimney effect accelerating the fuel consumption, collected more soot condensate than the attached hallway because it was colder, being nearer to the cold, outdoor environment. The fire did not significantly raise the temperature of the stairwell. The colder temperature of the stairwell caused the warm soot to cool and condense, causing its walls and ceiling to collect more soot.

Facts that make this case implausible

  • Ron was suspected and accused of arson simply because he accidentally spilled gasoline on himself at a church parking lot around 9:45 pm, about 2 hours before the fire. Ron spilled the gasoline while moving containers around in his truck to get a jug to fill at the church’s community well.
  • No one at any time reported smelling gasoline inside the building, especially the firehall residents, and the fire lacked the characteristics of a gasoline fire.
  • Firehall residents did not even know there was a fire or anything else wrong in their hallway and stairwell until the fire alarm sounded. They didn’t report hearing any explosion.
  • There were no explosions, which is extremely unusual for a closed-space, gasoline fire. Both the hallway and adjacent stairwell were separately closed off by doors, making it possible for two explosions, not just one.
  • Imagine that if a 1.7-ton vehicle gets only 32 mpg, then a half gallon is more than enough to drive or instantly propel the vehicle over 16 miles; and one cup of gasoline would be enough to drive or instantly propel the vehicle 2 miles. That amount of energy inside a closed hallway or stairwell would have exploded and blown out the windows and doors. It likely would have seriously injured or killed everyone around, including the “arsonist.”
  • If it had actually been a gasoline fire in the closed hallway and stairwell, the heat generated would have been far greater than it was. Gasoline generates 33 kWh/gallon, meaning that a gallon of gasoline would have instantly generated an hour’s worth of heat from 33 1000-Watt space heaters. That amount of heat would have at least blistered the paint on the walls, if not burned down that whole wing of the building, in addition to the rapid expansion of the air to cause a large explosion.
  • The fire started at about 11:30-11:35 pm, given the rate of burning and smoke generation shown in surveillance footage. The fire alarm sounded at 11:47. But Ron was only recorded in the fire area at 10:07 (1 hour 40 minutes earlier) and, having exited, was shown elsewhere at 10:10.
  • When Ron briefly entered the would-be fire area at 10:07 pm, he carried no liquid container to possibly hold and disperse the alleged flammable liquid.
  • There’s no evidence provided by Prosecution to indicate Ron was in or around the building between 11:15 pm when he exits the building and the fire alarm sounding at 11:47—no witnesses claiming to have seen Ron, and no external or internal building surveillance provided to indicate Ron’s location. Ron was not on the property when the fire started.
  • Ron was shown exiting the building at 11:15 pm, to take a 1.1-mile walk. When the fire started at approximately 11:30-11:35, Ron was about 0.5 miles away from the building, witnessing and observing a well-documented legal event. He described seeing this event to a female investigating officer (her record has not been provided to Defense), as well as to the detaining officer, and later in Ron’s jailhouse interrogation.
  • Ron couldn’t have known about the above-mentioned legal event if he hadn’t been there to witness and observe it, having had no opportunity to learn of the event after returning to the Meadows Apartments, where he was constantly observable, then detained and ultimately transported to jail. Ron’s disability (diseased heart and pacemaker) prevents him from any rushing, like running the 0.5 miles back to start the fire.
  • Someone unintentionally dripped a flammable liquid where the fire occurred. Defense hasn’t been provided any surveillance of the fire area between 10:07 when Ron entered the area and 11:47 when the fire alarm sounded, to show who spilled the flammable liquid or who was present at its ignition.
  • Investigators and Prosecution claim the fire was manually set but have not suggested how. They have utterly disregarded the high probabilities of accidental ignition by static discharge, friction, a smoker’s light-up or cigarette ember, or the inductive/capacitive discharge of a 7.2 kV power transformer in the spill pathway on the way to the dumpster.
  • This fire was out before the firemen even arrived, and there was no significant damage. The fire in the stairwell fully self-extinguished. Ron put out the hallway’s few remaining, trivial patches of fire. Real gasoline fires in buildings do not extinguish themselves without having caused catastrophic surface or structural damage. (There was no fire suppression sprinkler system installed in the Meadows at the time of the fire.)
  • The carpet’s burn pattern indicates that the likely alcohol-based flammable liquid was dripping from close to the ground, such as from a leaking garbage bag. If it had been an arson fire, wide splashes would have been expected, poured from considerable height away from the floor.
  • The initial suspect suffered serious smoke inhalation and was hospitalized, despite limited surveillance showing his minimal, indirect exposure to the fire smoke. Ron and another, older gentleman are shown in surveillance having spent much more time around the smoke but didn’t require any medical attention.
  • Investigators possessed the whole 24 hours of building surveillance for May 19th, 2018, but only provided Defense with some of the videos of 4 cameras between 10:07pm and 11:59pm, plus a 12:06am video (from nearly 24 hours before the fire) and a 7:02am video. Of the 15 indoor cameras and 2 crucial external cameras, the Defense has only received videos from 4 indoor cameras. This limited surveillance footage was only provided to the Defense many months after the fire!
  • The 2 outside surveillance cameras (footage not provided) would have also captured any nefarious activity relative to Ron’s truck and the gasoline container in it.
  • A thin, burnt path of a drizzled/dripped flammable liquid—that burned like an alcohol, not gasoline—showed where the liquid had leaked on the way to the outside dumpster, and the only areas that were burned were within inches of where the spills occurred. That limited burn never happens with a gasoline fire!

Brady Doctrine

There has been no complete, untampered discovery as mandated by law, and no speedy trial. In law, discovery is the compulsory disclosure to the opposing party of relevant and factual information, documents, recordings, etc., especially of evidence that is favorable to the defendant. This discovery obligation was formally requested four months from the event and has yet to be entirely satisfied.

The 14th Amendment as elucidated by the Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) requires prosecutors to disclose all evidence in the government’s possession to the defense, which may be material to the accused’s guilt or punishment. “In cases subsequent to Brady, the Supreme Court has eliminated the requirement for a defendant to have requested favorable information, stating that the prosecution has a constitutional duty to disclose, which is triggered by the potential impact of favorable but undisclosed evidence See Kyles v. Whitley 514 U.S. 419, 434 (1955); United States. v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667 (1985).”

J.C. Cooper

The Prosecution has failed to deliver all discoveries or proof of guilt. Among other things, there has been no evidence provided to Defense to show that Ron Makin was around the building when the fire started. Nearly all of Ron’s constitutional and civil rights were violated by law enforcement agents.

Though all exculpatory and (alleged) incriminating evidence was requested by and implicitly, legally due for the Defense immediately (< 14 days), even the deliberately-incomplete surveillance video package—deficient of multiple crucial videos relevant to the case, including video of the person(s) who carried and spilled the flammable liquid in the fire area between 10:07-11:47pm and the subsequent, apparently-accidental ignition—was not provided by the Prosecution for many months after the fact.

Prosecution has provided no indoor or outdoor building surveillance footage of Ron, or anyone, approaching the fire area (the north hallway and descending stairs, where the fire would later occur) between 10:07 pm (just after Ron entered and left the area, as proven by a 10:10 video of Ron re-entering the building’s main door at the ground floor), and 11:47pm, 1 hour 40 minutes later, when the fire alarm activated. How could Ron—or anyone, arsonist or not—manage to be so successful so as to not be caught by any surveillance cameras or witnesses in the area of the fire—with or without a container for a flammable liquid—around the time of ignition, yet still be fingered as “the arsonist” of the fire?

Ron was charged, by the Prosecuting attorney, with obstruction of justice for not being able to tell them the address of the man who gave him the gas can. The Judge was trying to pressure Ron to accept a plea bargain. They are desperately floundering for a way to indict Ron simply to cover up their error and liability for arresting an innocent man.

A statement provided by the Prosecution to the Defense at court, approximately a year into the court processes: “The partial forensic report is insufficient to make any determination with regard to the quantity/proportions of the alleged accelerant(s).” In English, there was no gasoline indicated in this fire.

Original Press Release Facts
about the Meadows Fire on May 19th, 2018 (written soon after the fire; some details may be superseded by better information)

1. The fire began many minutes prior to approximately 11:45-11:47 p.m., with lead time required to sense the smoke ionization and/or heat of the fire, to trigger, initiate and activate the automated alarm system. Ronald was not in the building at the time the fire began. The Bountiful City police detained and interrogated him all night. A gas container was found in the back of his truck in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Earlier that night, Ron unintentionally spilled gasoline on his pants and shoes at a parking lot near a public well where he went to obtain drinking water. The well is next to a church parking lot (200 East 200 South, Centerville, UT) where the gasoline spill created marks in the asphalt.
2. While Ron was being interrogated on site, the night of the fire, without a lawyer or counsel present, the police forced him to remain outside without a coat or any protection from the cold weather. They also denied him an opportunity to get his medication to take to the jail.
3. After being arrested Ron was held incommunicado without defense and due process until the day of his arraignment 13 days later. Ron’s (friend retained), private attorney, wife, friends, and church leaders were not allowed to see him. The phone system did not allow them appropriate communication either. The court did not offer him an attorney until minutes before his court hearing. The private attorney retained by Thomas Rodgers, first tried to contact Ron at the jail 4 days after the arrest but was not allowed personal contact until Ron was being brought into court 13 days later.
4. After only one and a quarter days at the Davis County Jail, the fire department investigator and the detective from the Bountiful Police Department attempted to intimidate Ron and tried to force him to sign a confession against his will, mind and knowledge.
5. Ron is on disability and his wife is visually and physically impaired. At the time of the incident, Ron provided for her care. They were planning to be sealed (eternally married) on the following December in the Manti Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was Sunday School President of the “Meadow’s Branch.”
6. In his past, Ron was an honorable Certified Licensed Public Professional Safety Officer until his declining health and disability interfered. His first concern that night of the fire was the safety and well being of his fellow occupants at the Meadows apartments, many of whom are amputees, crippled, blind, hearing impaired, deaf and otherwise handicapped, including his own wife.

Does the evidence suggest deliberate arson, or simply someone’s clumsy, accidental static-electric ignition of a garbage spill on their way to the dumpster? Curiously, the spill began behind the hallway door. This trivial fire was like a line of birthday candles caused by a flammable fluid, drizzled and dripped through the hall and down the stairs to the outside walkway passing around a ground-based power transformer—7.2 kV (thousands of volts) which poses a high risk for any flammable fluids or vapors which happen to come near it due to risk of ignition from inductive/capacitive static discharge, common and natural to high voltage transformers—and a propane powered supplemental power generator (opposite to the transformer), then passing around the transformer to the dumpster. Beyond the drip’s wetted area, carpets didn’t burn and paint did not blister but only collected soot (condensate) because the walls were cool or cold.

Only one occupant had to (simply) step over the flames. Two others exiting their apartment simply walked beside the small, non-threatening flame to exit the 56.5-ft long and 5-ft wide hallway, unthreatened and unharmed. They required no medical attention.

 

Bountiful City claimed that this fire was a premeditated arson fire and insinuated that the accelerant was gasoline, specifically from the water jug which contained gasoline, depicted below. But why would an arsonist return his NOTempty gasoline jug back to his pickup truck—where everyone could see it—after supposedly pouring some of the fuel for the “arson” fire? The claims of “arson” and “gasoline fire” just don’t add up to the absence of fire ferocity or damage shown in the Meadows Carpet Fire. There’s simply no evidence to support those claims or that Ron was involved in starting the fire. Prosecution and investigators haven’t provided any evidence, facts or explanations of their processes to validate their claims.

A gasoline fire is violent and ferociously damages everything within its domain. How could anyone using gasoline and igniting it—deliberate arsonist or not—utterly fail to cause catastrophic structural damage to this apartment building? The only possible answer is that it was not a gasoline fire in the first place, and it certainly was not deliberate or the amount as was implied by investigators in this case.

History of the Gasoline Container in Ron’s Truck Bed

The gasoline container, shown above, was alleged to be the source of the accelerant used in the Meadows Carpet Fire, even though forensic chemistry indicates no gasoline was used as the accelerant in the carpet samples.

Three days prior to the fire (Wed, May 16), Ron was asked by his estranged ex-family associate to carry this gasoline-filled water jug, which Ron accepted, unaware that the container was unapproved for gasoline. (The acquaintance operates a property maintenance service and wanted to carry more than his DOT-approved containers could hold or conveniently distribute.) After the acquaintance placed the container in the back of Ron’s truck, he assured Ron that he would come over to Ron’s apartment at the Meadows and retrieve this unapproved container which he used in his lawn care service. For three days Ron drove around with this gasoline container, not realizing that the cap was insecure as provided.

A few hours (approximately 9:45 – 10:00pm) prior to the fire Ron went for coffee (mocha) and then went for well water at the Centerville church parking lot adjacent to the 200 S 200 E intersection. He reached forward to lift the 2.5 gallon water container filled with gas (left with him by the ex-family associate) out of the way to access his regular water bottles stored by his cooler. Under the exertion of lifting the approximately 15-lb container of gas, Ron’s defective pacemaker was shocking him and giving him spasm-inducing stress. Because of the pain and destabilizing effect caused from the pacemaker, his actions were not stable and because of the unsealable, insecure cap, he spilled a considerable amount of the container’s gasoline onto his pants, shoes and the parking lot asphalt.

The location of Ron’s gasoline spill: approximately the center of the church parking lot. Other cars were parked close to the water well, so Ron parked away from the well. The gasoline spill damaged some of the asphalt, which damage was still recognizable for many months.

Ron then walked with his dogs around the water well’s/church’s parking lot for a few minutes to allow the gas to dry, since he didn’t have a change of clothes or shoes, until the gas had evaporated, and then he returned with his coffee and dogs to the Meadows parking lot. This all happened ~9:45pm, about 2 hours before the fire.

At about 10:20 (footage not provided) Ron took the dogs for a short walk, having not changed his clothes and not realizing that he still smelled like gasoline residue, like a smoker cannot smell his own smoke. He returned to his apartment with the dogs at ~10:40 (footage not provided). He spent some time in his apartment with Susie and then went for another walk (without his dogs) at 11:15, wearing the same gas-smelling T-shirt, pants and shoes he was wearing before because the evening air was unusually pleasant. Surveillance shows him leaving the building and does not show him again until 11:47. Walking around the block for about 1.1 miles—and witnessing a distant legal event at ~11:35—he returned to the building about 11:47, just as the fire alarm sounded.

The “small” fire, as described by several residents, obviously started before Ron entered the building, since the alarm sounded within seconds after he entered the building. He immediately went to his apartment and advised his wife Susie to get dressed in order to leave the apartment. He then picked up his phone which he hadn’t taken with him on his walk. Ron then stepped into the hall with his dogs in tow and called 911 while searching for the fire. The operator asked him if he saw any flames. After Ron located the fire in the north wing from the mezzanine (footage not provided), he reported that he could see flames and the operator told him to evacuate the building.

The surveillance footage of Ron locating the fire and reporting seeing flames to the 911 operator (11:47:32-11:48:12pm) has not been provided, but the audio of his 911 call has been provided.

Ron Makin’s 911 call, reporting fire and smoke. (Pertinent building surveillance videos not provided.)

The mezzanine camera shows Ron entering his southeast hallway from the mezzanine at 11:47:30pm, to retrieve his phone from his apartment so that he could call 911 and locate the fire. To locate the fire, Ron had to reenter the mezzanine camera’s field of view a few moments later, but the footage of Ron locating the fire has not been provided. Why???!!!—the fire was already burning, and whether Ron had started the fire or not, he had absolutely no reason to hide his location or be in a place other than the mezzanine where he purported to be when he reported seeing flames.

Ron was already trained previously as a first responder for fire and rescue, so his first concern was to help those who had ambulatory disabilities. Ron’s wife informed residents while Ron assisted an amputee in securing their leg, and assisted a resident with a recent back injury out of the building. Ron then returned to the area of the fire, remembering to help the blind and deaf person in the apartment adjacent to the fire scene. He then put out part of the small, visible flames with the fire extinguisher foam before having to leave because of the acrid smoke from the incinerated carpet fumes. The rest of the fire burned itself out. The fire department arrived after the fire had already been extinguished.

As Ron walked in and around the building 2 hours after his accidental gasoline spill on himself near the church’s water well, still smelling like gasoline residue, it made him the secondary person of interest and ultimate suspect. The police, fire personnel and apartment tenants noticed his smell. They conjured the idea that Ron was an arsonist.

All indications are that the fire was accidental and was caused by a low molecular weight/alcohol-like spill, liquor or household cleaning liquid, which was unintentionally ignited with static, friction, sparks, an ember from a smoldering cigarette, a cigarette lighting flame, or a nearby 7.2 kV power transformer.

If a gallon of gasoline—or just a cup—had been distributed and spread throughout the hallway and stairwell, then ignited by some method, the ignition and explosion would have blown out all the windows and doors of that stairwell and attached upper hallway. That is called a “BOMB!” It would have seriously burned or killed the alleged, gasoline-contaminated arsonist and the individuals in apartments attached to that hallway. However, the individuals living in those apartments were not even aware of an ignition, explosion or fire, and only after the alarm sounded they walked out uninjured and unharmed. Had gasoline been used, the fire would not have burned out before the fire department arrived.

The History and Intent for Ron’s Lighter

The Prosecution and a police report claim that a cigarette lighter was in Ron’s pocket, but there was no lighter found on him when he was required to change his clothing, to collect as evidence, in their presence that night. The lighter was never mentioned or noticed until the very end when they arrested Ron, after investigators had free access to his apartment while he was still detained outside.

Ron, a non-smoker, purchased the lighter earlier that week, anticipating using it to light a barbecue at Bountiful Pond the next day, May 20, and again on Memorial Day to celebrate three years of marriage. He previously purchased hot dogs in anticipation of the barbecue.

Persons of Interest

Person of interest #1 (the initial suspect—the guy in the red shirt) The only other individual adversely affected by the fire was an individual who didn’t live in that hallway but was using that hallway and stairwell as a pathway to the outside dumpster to dispose of his garbage, as did others. A rock was found by the stairwell’s exit-only door, suggesting it was used to prop the door open to allow re-entry, as was often done. As he re-entered the building through that same stairway and hall, the flames apparently became evident underneath him. He apparently tried to stomp and pat out this trivial or nonthreatening fire, even using his hands. He likely panicked when he realized he could not put out the fire that he noticed during his passage up the stairs and through the hallway. This individual was treated and transported to the hospital by ambulance for serious smoke inhalation and possible heat irritations to his hands.

There is NO police and medical report of that person-of-interest #1—the initial arson suspect—who received those injuries. This person, who was staying with a friend at the Meadows complex, abruptly packed and left—that night—and has never returned to the facility since. He was the only person to receive medical attention and treatment at the hospital for any fire-related injuries that evening.

Person of interest #3 A heavy-set, young man wearing gray shorts and a blue T-shirt was noticed loitering outside near the stairwell’s fire-exit door and the fuel spill’s trail, possibly lighting up a cigarette in the stairwell and sneaking a quick smoke as many others did in this area, unwittingly igniting the combustible vapors.

Officer’s bodycam (audio) of first hour (~11:56pm) after fire

Part 1 of 4: Building evacuation – resident says “Ron is going to go to jail” (@1m3s) – Police say of initial suspect: “There’s a guy running around in a red shirt upstairs up and down the hallway” (2m25s) and “He’s trying to hide” (2m36s) – They extract initial suspect (in red shirt) from the building – Resident says of person in red, “He must have went back up” (3m54s), observing that the person in red had earlier already evacuated the building with most of the other residents, but then reentered to observe fire damage.
Part 2 of 4: Interrogation of initial suspect (the only person needing medical attention, with smoke inhalation, possible heat irritation to hands, and panic issues relative to the fire).
Part 3 of 4: Firehall residents’ descriptions of the fire – Also, Ron describes kid loitering outside stairwell as Ron enters building immediately prior to fire alarm activation – Hallway occupant refers to smokers caught in stairwell on other occasions (15m12s).
Part 4 of 4: Investigation continues – Notice end comment, about initial suspect (at 9m18s)

Other audio recordings

Ron’s I Did Not Do It collage (excerpts from interrogation when being detained on night of fire)
Ron Makin’s 911 call, reporting fire and smoke. (Pertinent building surveillance videos not provided.)
Tom Rodgers at Bountiful City Council 06-25-19