Burnin’ love: Smith charged with arson in house fire

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, July 26, 2014

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A Paradise woman is suspected of intentionally setting her home on fire with her husband sleeping inside.

Crystal Kay Smith

Crystal Kay Smith, 32, was arrested Wednesday and charged with arson of a habitation – reckless, causing damage – a first degree felony. She remained in Wise County Jail late Friday with bond set at $100,000.

The fire happened at the Smiths’ home at 211 Private Road 3360 in Paradise on Nov. 6 of last year. Smith’s husband at the time, Jeffrey Scott, told Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard and Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis that he worked at night and was asleep when he was awakened that afternoon by the sound of the smoke detector.

“Mr. Smith got out of bed and opened his bedroom door to find fire in the laundry room, kitchen and the living room,” Crystal Smith’s arrest warrant affidavit filed by Travis states. “Mr. Smith had to crawl through the living room to his front door to exit the structure. Mr. Smith received some minor burns in the process of exiting the residence.”

He was able to run to a neighbor’s house and call for help.

Travis interviewed Crystal Smith that day, and she told him she had left to pick up her son from school. She denied knowing what caused the fire, according to the affidavit.

The fire investigation ruled out all electrical sources and appliances as possible ignition sources, and it appeared the fire had been intentionally set. The home and all its contents were destroyed.

According to records on file in the 271st District Clerk’s Office in Decatur, the Smiths separated the following month, and their divorce was finalized in April.

On June 24, an informant contacted the Wise County Sheriff’s Office to report Crystal Smith, with whom he’d previously had a sexual relationship, was threatening his fianc e. He said the threats had been taking place since he and Crystal Smith had broken up, according to the affidavit. He also told investigators that Crystal Smith had admitted to intentionally setting her home on fire.

Two days later, the informant met with Travis to give a detailed statement about the fire.

“(The informant) explained that he had begun a sexual relationship with Crystal Kay Smith in October of 2013,” the affidavit states. “He said during his relationship with her that she reported that she’d had a fire at her residence, initially telling him that the fire was determined to be electrical in origin. During a later conversation, somewhere around the month of February 2014, Crystal Kay Smith admitted to (the informant) that she actually had set the fire in her residence to kill her husband and collect on the homeowners and life insurance policies.”

Travis stated in the affidavit that he needed to get Crystal Smith to admit to setting the fire on tape, and he asked the informant to rekindle his relationship with her.

On July 16, the informant called Crystal Smith from Travis’ office. A recording device was placed on the informant’s cell phone, and Smith admitted “to setting her house on fire using acetone (fingernail polish remover) as an ignitable liquid to ignite the fire,” according to the affidavit.

“Crystal Kay Smith went on to say that her intent in setting the fire was to kill her husband Jeffrey Scott Smith,” the affidavit states.

The first degree felony offense of arson carries a possible punishment range of 5 to 99 years or life in jail.

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