A messy divorce leads to arson in St. Johns as a man is accused of setting his estranged wife's house on fire over the weekend.
23-year-old Cody Haubert was charged with arson, stalking, and malicious destruction of property Wednesday in St. Johns district court.
Haubert was currently under and in violation of a personal protection order from his soon-to-be ex-wife, Nicole, and her three children.
"What we are seeing is an escalation of the violence of this individual that's gotta stop," St. Johns Police Chief Michael Madden said.
Nicole's father said he feared for his daughter's life.
"What started out as a decent relationship, turned into this," Nicole's father and Haubert's father-in-law Randy Moon said. "It's just a tragedy."
Neighbors who witnessed Saturday morning's fire said this wasn't a happy marriage.
"It seemed like they argued," Sherry Smith said. "We could hear them sometimes." Smith lives across the street from Nicole's home on North Clinton Ave.
Police have responded to the home in the past for domestic assaults and property damage, but this time around it was a fire around 5:45 a.m. January 26. It took several departments at least eight hours to put it out, with about $50,000 worth of damage done.
"Fire got into the walls and into the attic, and made for a very stubborn blaze," Chief Madden said.
Investigators found the back door kicked in and believe the fire was started in two different places. Thankfully, no one was injured or home at the time, including Nicole's three children.
"This was their future, this was the house they were going to be in when they graduated high school and mature and grow up and move out of, and be on their own," Moon said. "And now it's taken from them."
It was also the home of a soldier. Haubert was in the Army reserves and had an assignment this upcoming weekend, but instead, he'll spend it behind bars.
"This guy's gotta go away and go away for a long time," Chief Madden said.
Nicole filed for divorce in December, less than five months after marrying Haubert. For now she's staying with her children at a friend's house.
Haubert is in jail for violating the personal protection order. He faces up to 20 years for the arson charge and 5 years for stalking.
A preliminary exam is set for Feb. 7.
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