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Investigation Leads to Two Arrests in Hunter Ridge Rd. Blaze

A fire completely gutted the house at 62 Hunters Ridge Road on Jan. 28,2008.

Amanda and Jao Azevedo had fallen on hard times financially, incurring debt both privately and with their family business. Then on Jan. 8,2008, the house the couple lived in with their son at 62 Hunter Ridge Road was completely destroyed by a fire.

A cold case investigation by inspectors of the State’s Attorney's office and the Monroe Police Detective Bureau in late 2012 found that the couple allegedly tried to solve their financial woes by collecting fire insurance. Jao died two years ago, but his wife, who moved to Florida shortly after the fire, and a suspected accomplice were arrested for arson.

Monroe police detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Amanda Azevedo for the charges of first-degree arson, criminal attempt to commit insurance fraud and first-degree criminal attempt to commit larceny.

On Jan. 23,2013, Azevedo was arrested as a fugitive of justice in Clearwater, Fla., according to a press release issued by the Monroe Police Department.

On Tuesday, after an extradition hearing in Florida, Azevedo was transported back to Connecticut by a Monroe police officer and an inspector from the Fairfield Judicial District of the State's Attorney's Office. She is being held on $250,000 bond and will appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on Feb. 06.

A known associate of the Azevedo's, Diniz DePina of Bridgeport, was also arrested on Jan. 23, 2012 in connection with this crime. The charges against DePina were first-degree conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. DePina was released on a $100,000 court set bond.

A Suspicious Fire

On Jan. 28, 2008, a Hunter Ridge Road woman reported that her neighbors' home was on fire at 9:52 a.m. and when police and fire personnel arrived on the scene the house was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters from Monroe's three fire companies, battling the blaze with the help of units from surrounding towns, had to bring in tanker trucks full of water, because there were no fire hydrants on the street.

Due to the lack of water and the windy weather conditions, the home was a total lose, police said, adding the family was not home at the time of the fire and three of the family's dogs found roaming in the yard were taken in by a neighbor.

The initial investigation by the Fire Marshal's office, with assistance from the Connecticut State Fire Marshal's office and Monroe police, determined the fire started in the front center of the home, but no cause could be determined, police said.

The case was presented to the State's Attorney's Office, Fairfield Judicial District in Bridgeport due to suspicion of arson and the investigation remained open.

Police Lt. Keith White said after a complete review of the evidence, including the insurance company's fire reconstruction reports and more interviews, homeowner Amanda Azevedo became the primary focus of the investigation.

The blight conditions from the fire-damaged home and property on Hunters Ridge Road caused neighbors to work with town officials and Town Attorney John Fracassini for years to clean it up, because what remained of the house was demolished on Dec. 19,2011. A pending lawsuit with the insurance company was one of the obstacles causing delays of the clean up.

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