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Home Destroyed In Suspicious Fire

10-5-2007 Oklahoma:

A Creek County criminal case has taken on a new twist. Ed Willingham Jr. once worked for the Creek County Sheriff's office and until recently, was the lead investigator for the Creek County District Attorney’s office. He was fired this summer after his wife accused him of molesting a young girl. Willingham was charged in that case Wednesday and six hours later, his house burned to the ground.

News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports the state fire marshal is looking at whether this is arson, but most officers the News On 6 talked to, believe it is.

Ed Willingham Jr. had been granted the house at 17204 West Teel Road in Sapulpa in the divorce and was supposed to move back in next week. His wife and sons had moved out recently. This fire is just one more strange event in the recent life of Ed Willingham, Jr.

His career in law enforcement and his marriage have also gone up in flames in the past few months. In court papers, Willingham’s wife accused Ed Willingham Jr. of being addicted to prescription drugs and abusing her on July 4th. His wife went back to him until 13 days later when she says she caught Ed Willingham sexually molesting a 10-year-old neighbor girl who had spent the night.

Ed Willingham’s wife filed a protective order against him and he was arrested for violating it twice in a matter of days. Court papers show Ed Willingham Jr. filed for divorce then dropped it. Ed Willingham’s wife filed and requested he only get twice weekly supervised visits with his two young sons and the judge agreed.

That is about when Willingham got fired by his close friend and boss, District Attorney Max Cook. Then Willingham was charged Wednesday with molesting the neighbor girl in July and with molesting a friend's daughter in 2001.

The family of that girl says they didn't report it at the time because he was a higher up at the Creek County Sheriff's Office and they were afraid no one would believe them, plus the victim’s family didn't want it to ruin their lives.

Court records show Willingham's wife caught him in a third compromising position with a child many years ago while camping with friends and their toddler daughter, but his wife never mentioned it to anyone.

Willingham surrendered on the new charges on Wednesday afternoon, bonded out immediately and by 10 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters were racing to his home to put out a fire. More than a few people wondered about the timing of it.

The state Fire Marshals Office told the News On 6, it's too soon to know if Wednesday night's fire was arson. They should know more by Thursday. The Creek County Sheriff's Office told Lori Fullbright, if it is, they have several suspects they will want to question. ..more.. by

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