Family member suspected in Velma arson

Family member suspected in Velma arson

VELMA, Okla._An arson investigation in Velma is underway after investigators believe a man set fire to his mother's former home.

While the state Fire Marshal's Office and Stephens County Sheriff's Office have not released the suspect's name, investigators say he has been identified.

Around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, firefighters were called to a trailer fire in Velma, just north of old Highway 7. When firefighters arrived, the home was engulfed in flames. The suspected arsonist was nearby and seriously injured.

The suspect remains hospitalized in Oklahoma City with third-degree burns. The family says they're sure he set the fire following an ongoing family feud over the home and the property it sits on.

The grandfather owns the land and his daughter-in-law owns the home. He says he wants the trailer gone, and believes his grandson and daughter-in-law planned to do just that by setting the fire.

The suspect's grandfather, Carl Caudell Sr. was out of town at a family reunion when he got a call from the fire department telling him a home on his property was on fire. He says that's when his heart sank.

"Once we knew it was this home, we knew who did it, who was involved," said Caudell.

Caudell says he suspected his grandson immediately and called his son, Carl Caudell Jr., to head to the home next door to investigate. When he arrived, he says witnesses told him about a truck they saw nearby, one that sounded all too familiar.

"When I heard that everyone was running up and down the street saying it had North Carolina plates on it, and it was my nephew, you can only imagine what goes through somebody's mind," said Caudell Jr.

Caudell Jr. says he has no doubt his nephew was trying to frame him.

"I think that it was set up to make it look like I set it, mom and dad are out of town, I'm here out of work due to a heart attack, but they didn't realize I had my daughter in town, grandkids around, I have an alibi," said Caudell Jr.

Instead of landing him in trouble, he says his nephew's plan took an unexpected turn.

"It's a down right selfish act, greediness. They wanted to show their way and their way back fired, it didn't land them where they wanted to go," said Caudell Jr.

Caudell Sr. says while the suspect is his own flesh and blood, it's difficult for him to sympathize.

"You get what you deserve. Grandson, no grandson, he got what he deserved, and he will finish paying for it. And that goes for anybody. You do the crime, you better be ready," said Caudell Sr.

The case has been turned over to the state Fire Marshal's Office who has taken over the arson investigation.

Officials are trying to determine whether anyone else may have been involved with starting the fire. The condition of the man who was badly burned is unknown at this hour.