Truxton man charged with arson, attempted murder


A 37-year-old Truxton man was charged with attempted murder for setting a fire Sept. 17 to a mobile home on Kingsley Avenue in Cortlandville and barricaded the main exit while two residents were inside, according to the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office.

Matthew S. Clark, of Chenango Solon Pond Road, was charged with second-degree attempted murder, second-degree arson, second-degree criminal mischief, first-degree reckless endangerment, felonies; and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.

Authorities were alerted to the fire in Penguin Trailer Park about 3:10 a.m., according to the Cortlandville Fire Department, which said no injuries were reported.

“On arrival firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions on an enclosed attached porch,” according to a fire department news release. “Firefighters attacked the bulk of the fire from the outside. The fire was knocked down in 15 minutes.”

“During the investigation it was determined that the Defendant, Matthew S. Clark, barricaded the main entrance/exit to the residence while two residents were inside the residence,” according to a news release issued early Friday afternoon by the Sheriff’s Office. “Mr. Clark then started the residence on fire over a dispute regarding property that was inside the residence. Mr. Clark then fled the scene and was unable to be located.”

An arrest warrant for the second-degree arson charge was issued for Clark.

A few days later, the county District Attorney’s Office presented the case in front of a grand jury, which indicted Clark on the attempted murder, arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment charges.

The cause of the fire was investigated by the Cortlandville Fire Department, the state Fire Investigation Team and the county Sheriff’s Office.

A Superior Court Warrant of Arrest was signed Thursday for Clark on the full list of charges that were later filed against him.

The Sheriff’s Office received a tip at 5:43 p.m. Thursday that Clark was seen in the Truxton area. Sheriff’s officers found Clark, who fled on foot. With the assistance of the Cortland Police Department, Homer Police Department and state police, the Sheriff’s Office caught Clark.

During the arrest, Clark was found to be in possession of an unspecified controlled substance.

Sheriff Mark Helms noted that Clark has been arrested several times this year for misdemeanors and felonies but, due to state bail reform, he was released on his own recognizance. He was arrested most recently for burglarizing a home on Sept. 12, five days before the arson, and released pending a future court appearance.

The residents of the mobile home were not identified by the Sheriff’s Office and an investigator could not immediately be reached to provide additional details about the case.

As of Friday morning, the residence still smelled of smoke. While the majority of the exterior structure of the mobile home is still intact, nearly the entire inside and outer-facing wall were destroyed.

The empty shell of the residence, which is located in the back corner of the mobile home park, is surrounded by ash and various debris. Random items, such as autumn decor and a child’s umbrella, are littered throughout the debris.

Staff reporter Lily Byrne contributed to this article.