Mass. man ordered to write apology letter to local firefighters
Benjamin Ketschke reportedly tried to grab a hose that West Newbury firefighters were using to extinguish a burning vehicle
The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.
WEST NEWBURY, Mass. — A man charged with burning his ex-girlfriend's $70,000 Audi last year was ordered Monday to write apology letters to a state trooper and local firefighters after he tried to grab a hose they were using to put out the blaze he started, according to Newburyport District Court records.
Benjamin Ketschke, 46, of West Newbury was arraigned in District Court in late March on charges of burning a motor vehicle, malicious destruction of property more than $1,200 and interfering with a firefighter.
On Monday, Ketschke saw all three charges generally continued for a year. If he writes letters of apology, stays out of trouble with the law, remains alcohol free and completes an anger management course, the charges will be dropped after that time.
West Newbury firefighters responded to the River Meadow Court residence — where the two lived — shortly after midnight on June 7, 2020, and saw the Audi on fire in the driveway. The girlfriend had left the home prior to the fire after a "verbal altercation," state Trooper Kenneth Belben wrote in his report.
Belben works for the state police fire investigation unit in Stow.
As firefighters began to put out the fire, Ketschke tried to take the hose away from them. West Newbury police Officer Manny Terrero was forced to pull Ketschke away and stop him from interfering, according to Belben.
Once the fire was out, firefighters called the fire investigation unit to the home. Police soon learned that Ketschke had bought the car as a gift just a week earlier.
A quick examination of what was left of the convertible showed that a metal gas can had been thrown inside the car. Investigators also found several holes in the car caused by repeated blows with an ax.
Ketschke told police that while lying in a hammock about 200 feet from the Audi, he heard a loud smash. He turned toward the noise and saw the car was "completely engulfed in fire," Belben wrote in his report, adding that Ketschke told police he filmed the fire on his smartphone.
After receiving permission to search the property, police found an ax that matched the marks left on the Audi.
Later that day, a state police K-9 examined the car, which had been towed, and detected gasoline in the center console and engine compartment.
About the same time, the girlfriend told police that Ketschke sent her a video of "her Audi fully engulfed in flames. She then called 911 and reported the fire," Belben wrote in his report, adding that Ketschke also sent the woman texts saying her car was burning in their driveway.
At Ketschke's arraignment last year, his attorney told Judge Peter Doyle that he "truly regrets" the incident and it would "never happen again."
(c)2021 The Daily News of Newburyport