AKRON, Ohio — A man accused of setting a house fire that killed seven of his neighbors pleaded not guilty to his charges in court Thursday.
Stanley Ford, 58, appeared by video in court Wednesday in Akron. He was calm as one charge of aggravated arson and seven charges of aggravated murder were read out to him.
Judge Ann Marie O’Brien denied bond to Ford, citing “the potential risk to the community” and calling it one of the most tragic cases in recent memory.
Thursday, Ford’s court-appointed attorney requested bond be lowered, saying that his client is married with two young children and has lived in his neighborhood for 49 years. O’Brien then issued him $7 million cash bond.
Charges could eventually be amended so that Ford faces the death penalty.
Police arrested Ford on Tuesday. Court records did not show any previous criminal convictions in Akron.
Investigators aren’t discussing a possible motive or what led them to Ford. The fire on May 15 killed a couple and their five children. Three days later, police executed a search warrant on a house Ford owns and one next door.
Firefighters found the two-story home engulfed in flames when they arrived in the early morning hours last week. The house sat near the top of a winding street in a neighborhood of mostly clapboard houses.
Killed were 35-year-old Dennis Huggins, his partner, 38-year-old Angela Boggs, and five children: 14-year-old Jered Boggs, 6-year-old Daisia Huggins, 5-year-old Kylle Huggins, 3-year-old Alivia Huggins and 16-month-old Cameron Huggins.
A medical examiner said all seven died of smoke inhalation on the second floor. The fire tied for the deadliest blaze in city history.
Tony Huggins, the brother of Dennis Huggins, said he had never seen Ford and didn’t think anyone in his family knew Ford. Police said they didn’t know of any relation between Ford and the victims other than they were neighbors. Neighbors described Ford as a “regular, nice, normal guy” who’d occasionally wave or chat briefly while mowing his lawn.
The fire happened a block from a home where a man and a woman died in an April 2016 fire that was investigated as a potential arson. No one was charged in that fire, and authorities said they are taking another look at it because of this recent blaze.
Angela Boggs’ estranged husband was detained following the fire last week on a suspected parole violation. Police said Tuesday that he is not a suspect in the fire.