HUDSON, TX (KTRE) - Officers with the Hudson Police Department arrested a 34-year-old woman on Nov. 30 in connection to allegations that she set her house on fire and threatened to kill the town's fire marshal.
Susan Reese Ferguson, of Lufkin, was booked in to the Angelina County Jail on a first-degree felony arson charge, a third-degree felony obstruction or retaliation charge, and two misdemeanor theft by check between $20 and $500 charges. Collectively, her bail amount has been set at $61,500.
According to the arrest affidavit for the arson charge, the chief of the Hudson Fire Department contacted Cpl. Joe Burton, the city's fire marshal, on Oct. 22 and asked him to investigate a fire that had occurred at home in the 200 block of Ross Nash Lane the day before. When Burton contacted Ferguson, the tenant of the home, she informed him that she was in Shreveport, Louisiana at the time of the fire.
Ferguson allegedly said that she left for Louisiana at about 11:30 a.m. to go to her brother's house. She also said that she had rented a storage locker and put some items she had gotten from brother's house in Lufkin in it before she left.
Ferguson told Burton that she left Lufkin no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 21. However, the keypad entry log at the storage facility showed that Ferguson entered the business three times on the day of the fire, and the last one was at 6:42 p.m., which put her in Lufkin at least three hours before the fire at her home, the affidavit stated.
On Nov. 17, Burton spoke to a witness who was at the Subway in Hudson, where his girlfriend works. The man told the Hudson PD corporal that he overheard Ferguson tell her family that "the police took her phone, and she believes she admitted to burning her house in her phone," the affidavit stated.
The witness told Burton that when Ferguson walked back into the restaurant, she was crying. When he asked her why, she allegedly replied that the police had taken her phone and said, "I think I might have admitted to burning my house down." The witness also said that Ferguson told him that the police found a gas can that she thought she had moved, the affidavit stated.
During the same conversation, Ferguson also allegedly asked the man how to delete messages from her phone.
According to the affidavit, the other witness told Burton that Ferguson had told her that her house burned down recently and that she had been in Houston because of her son's illness during the fire. Ferguson also allegedly told the woman that got renter's insurance and a storage unit several days before the fire. The witness stated that Ferguson told her that she was storing personal items in the storage unit, the affidavit stated.
The second witness said Ferguson seemed more "stressed out" a few days later. When she went to take the trash out, she overheard Ferguson say she was scared that she was going to prison and she needed to figure out what to do with her kids, the affidavit stated. Ferguson also allegedly asked about bail.
According to the affidavit, Ferguson started the fire at her home intentionally, knowing that it was insured and that it was subject to a mortgage or other security interest.
On a related note, two other witnesses came to speak to Burton at the Hudson Police Department on Nov. 15. They told him that they had heard Ferguson make threats against Burton when they went to the Hudson Subway on Nov. 9 to eat lunch.
Ferguson was working the cash register at the time, they said. When Ferguson noticed the man was wearing a Hudson Fire Department shirt, she asked him if he had worked the fire at her home. When she told him where her house was located, he said yes.
Later in the conversation, Ferguson asked the man if he knew Burton. After he said yes, she said, "Yeah, well, I'm about to have his job," the affidavit stated.
Ferguson also allegedly told the man and his girlfriend that Burton had accused her of burning her house down and that a forensic scientist had been to the property and found chewed up wires.
Ferguson then said, "I've spoken to other firemen from around here, and they say Joe Burton is the world's worst about accusing people of burning their houses down when he can't figure out what the actual cause is," the affidavit stated.
The conversation progressed, and Ferguson said she told Burton she was going to punch him in his "ugly face," the affidavit stated. She allegedly added that if he tried to arrest her, she would "blow his [expletive] head off."