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Judge sets $1.4 million bail in fatal fire

Published On: Sep 12 2012 02:05:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 12 2012 09:05:22 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

A judge has set bail for a father accused of setting a house fire that killed his three sons at $1.4 million.

SLIDESHOW: See photos of suspects, victims, Argyle house fire scene

Armin Wand III, 32, of Argyle, faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, three counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one arson count.

LaFayette County Circuit Judge William D. Johnston set his bail Wednesday at $200,000 per count.

Investigators say Armin Wand III's brother, Jeremy Wand helped set the fire. Jeremy Wand, 18, faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one arson charge.

Johnston set Jeremy Wand's bail Wednesday at $200,000 per count for a total cash bond of $1.2 million.

According to the criminal complaint, Armin and Jeremy Wand started a fire Friday at the home of Armin Wand at 402 Oak St. in the village of Argyle for the purpose of collecting life insurance policies on his wife, Sharon Wand, 27, and his children: Allen Wand, 7, Jeffrey Wand, 5, Joseph Wand, 3, and Jessica Wand, 2.

At the time the fire was set, Armin Wand's pregnant wife and children were sleeping in the home, according to the complaint.

Officials said Allen Wand, Jeffery Wand and Joseph Wand died in the fire.

Sharon Wand, who was about four months pregnant, lost her unborn baby due to her injuries and remains in critical condition at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

If the men post bail, they're ordered to have no contact with Armin's wife or the 2-year-old girl who survived the fire.

The complaint said Armin ran out of the house, and then his wife came out and handed off their 2-year-old daughter to him. Armin then went to a broken side window and tried to put the toddler back into the burning building, but a neighbor arrived and Armin stopped, according to the complaint.

Speaking after Wednesday's court proceedings, Sharon's family said she had a good day Wednesday but still has a long road ahead with burns covering nearly 70 percent of her body.

One her aunts, Lessa Bobak, asked the public to pray for Sharon.

"At this time, Jessica, Sharon's 2 year old, is being well cared for and his healthy and is stable," Bobak said. "We would like to see justice for Allen, Jeffrey, Joseph and Sharon -- and Sharon's unborn child. We ask the family be allowed to mourn the loss of these precious boys in privacy. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has assisted the family during this tragedy."

A source close to the investigation told WISC-TV that investigators are looking into generations of possible abuse in the Wand family.

WISC-TV found evidence of a court hearing from 1962 that alleges Armin's father, Armin Wand Sr., was apparently the target of abuse, imprisonment and malnutrition by his parents. Sources said this pattern of abuse and dysfunction continued as the family grew.

Jeremy Wand told police that he and Armin Wand discussed plans that included staging the situation as vandalism and fire damage to obtain money from Armin's renter's policy as well, according to the complaint.

Sharon Wand's family members told WISC-TV that the family's insurance had lapsed and there is nothing to collect on those policies.

The complaints detail what Armin allegedly told police about starting the fire. The complaint said Armin and Jeremy tried to set the carpet on fire, then crumpled up pieces of paper on the living room floor and right under where Sharon Wand was sleeping on a futon.

The complaint said Armin told police Jeremy tried to ignite the arm of the couch where his youngest son was sleeping.

The complaint said Armin also directed Jeremy to lock the bedroom door where the other boys were asleep. The door apparently locks from the outside, locking the boys in the bedroom so they couldn't escape.

The complaint said Armin promised Jeremy $300 from the insurance money for his help setting the fire.

In Jeremy's interview with investigators, he allegedly said they started lighting fires near the television to make it look like an electrical fire, according to the complaint. Jeremy told investigators he locked the boys' bedroom to ensure no flames got into their room, according to the complaint.

The complaint said Jeremy told police Sharon Wand woke up and tried to put the fire out with a blanket. Jeremy said he told Armin he didn't want to leave without the children but that Armin forced him outside, according to the complaint.

A fund has been set up to assist the victims. Donations can be sent to:

Wand Children Benefit Fund
Talmer Bank and Trust
101 7 1/2 St.
Monroe, WI 53566

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage. 

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