An investigation is underway after a Thanksgiving morning fire damaged the home of a convicted sex offender who has been in a running feud with his neighbors.
Center Point firefighters responded about 9:15 a.m. to the 10th Street home of Raymond Kyle Martin, 27. The first unit on the scene reported smoke coming from the roof, and firefighters who arrived later said there was fire on the back side of the home.
It wasn't immediately clear whether anyone was inside at the time the fire erupted. Martin lives there with his mother, Tammy McCullers, his newborn and other family members. Martin, however, was not home at the time of the fire because he is back in the Jefferson County Jail after being arrested Wednesday on a harassment charge, jail records show.
Center Point Fire Battalion Chief Brad Appleton said only that the fire was under investigation and that there were no injuries. The fire marshal, however, was on the scene and could be seen collecting evidence from the bottom of the home's back door.
A feud worthy of the Hatfields and McCoys has been brewing in the Robinwood neighborhood for some time between Martin and his neighbors, who are parents of six.
The Lessleys have lived in their home for 11 years, and said they had no problems until Martin moved in across the street about a year ago. Since then, they've said, Martin has terrorized the neighborhood children and their parents, threatening to call the cops, call DHR and even skin their cat. "It's just a nightmare,'' Lessley said.
Martin's mother, however, said they're not the problem. Their neighbors are the ones stirring the pot, all in an effort to get them to leave Robinwood. "They want us to move so bad,'' McCullers said. "I will see them mother (expletives) in hell before I move."
Martin was arrested in 2012, then 24, and accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. His mother said the sex was consensual and that the girl told her son she was 18. "He was set up,'' McCullers said.
In 2013, he pleaded guilty to the charges and received a 10-year suspended sentence in each case. It's not his only brushes with the law. Court records show he has other convictions for criminal trespass, harassing communications, probation violation, violation of the state's sex offender notification laws, domestic violence and multiple counts of cruelty to animals. In one of those cases, authorities noted, he left one of his dogs without food and water, and the dog ended up hanging herself and dying while she was trying to get to her puppies.
A warrant for his arrest was issued Oct. 6 after Lessley filed a harassment charge against him. In that complaint, she said her neighbor yells nasty things to her when she walks her kids to the bus stop, threatens to burn down her house and kill her pets. She said she's found hotdogs in her yard that she fears have been poisoned and meant to harm her three dogs.
"I'm not the only family with kids he's messing with,'' she said. "It's an ongoing battle. We've talked to the landlord. We've offered to buy that house. I've put up a camera system and I can't let my kids play in the yard unless we're outside with them. I do a perimeter check when they do go out, and they know not to go close to the gate."
Martin has denied doing anything wrong. Details of his newest harassment charge weren't immediately available. ..Source.. by Carol Robinson
JeffCo man feels targeted after home set on fire
JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -
Investigators are still looking for answers after a fire broke out on Thanksgiving Day near the back door of a home on 10th Street in Robinwood.
Sources say the fire is suspicious.
Raymond Martin lives at the home with his mother.
Martin is a registered sex offender. He wasn't home at the time of the fire because he was in jail on a harassment charge. Martin feels he was targeted.
"I feel like I'm being intimidated. I feel like I'm being harassed. It's just I can't leave the yard, can't do nothing without being harassed or the law gets called or something constantly always going on," said Martin.
Earlier this month, Martin's neighbor - Jeb Lessley, put up a big sign warning others in the area of Martin's sex offender status.
Lessley says he did it to warn the community after he claims Martin made threats against him. Lessley says he had nothing to do with the fire.
Martin's mother, Tammy McCullers, says she hasn't been able to sleep since the fire.
"Nobody should have to live fearful for their life. Nobody. I believe somebody is going to set this house on fire with us in it," said McCullers.
Martin says he would like law enforcement to patrol the area a lot more because he feels concerned for his safety.