Wife: Estranged husband set fire

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SPENCER — A Spencer woman said her estranged husband used a ladder to climb through an upstairs window Friday before he held her son at gunpoint and set their Steeplechase Trail home on fire.
But police have not charged anyone in connection with the fire, and the husband’s whereabouts are unknown.
Sheena Hasty, who lived at 430 Steeplechase Trail, said she got a call from her son, Joseph Walker, about 4 p.m. Friday. He said Hasty’s estranged husband, Bernard Thomas Turner, was climbing in the house with a pistol.
“He said, ‘He’s at the house.’ I called 911 as well,” Hasty said Saturday afternoon. “There is a restraining order in place.”
The call went dead before she could get more information. As she sprinted past officers on the scene Friday, the home was already engulfed in flames. Spencer Police officers had gone there on a domestic disturbance call.
Firefighters knocked down the two-alarm blaze within two hours, but not before it gutted the home.
Fire and rescue units lined the streets of the Steeplechase subdivision.
Hasty said she and “Nard,” as her husband is known by friends, separated in September.
Despite the past six months, which she said were “up and down,” Turner came to the house and asked for a place to stay until he got his feet on the ground.
“He told me he didn’t have anywhere to stay. Me being a nice person, I didn’t want him to be homeless,” she said. “It was the understanding that when he got a job, he was going to move out.”
But when she got home from work Thursday night, Turner had changed the locks on her doors, she said.
“I guess he was going to lock me out,” she said.
Hasty said she changed the locks again and told him to leave.
• • •
Walker and a friend were at the house Friday afternoon playing PlayStation 3 when they saw Turner outside the window.
“Then he went to all the doors to the house,” Walker said. “He tried to pull the garage doors up with his hands.”
Walker said the next thing he knew, Turner put a ladder up at the back of the house and came inside through an upstairs window.
“I thought he was coming in to get some more of his stuff,” Walker said.
“He just had this crazy look in his eyes. I didn’t even want to confront him about it.”
Turner was holding a handgun, Walker said, and suddenly began shooting at appliances.
“He fired two shots in his bedroom when he was in there, and at least eight more shots when he was in the living room and kitchen area.”
Televisions in almost every room were shot, Walker said, and the refrigerator and stove also had bullet holes.
Walker said he didn’t see some of those shots because Turner had forced him and his friend into the bathroom, pointing the handgun at them until they were on the floor. When they heard him leave, they came out and began checking for damage.
“If I wouldn’t have been looking at the bullet holes, I would have seen the fire burning,” he said.
In the bedroom closet, Walker said, a large fire had started.
“I tried to stomp it but it was getting too big,” he said. “I couldn’t save nothing. By the time I got back in with the hose pipe, the fire had spread throughout the whole closet.”
The fire quickly spread to the roof. The right half of the house, where the master bedroom is, was partially collapsed.
Turner has had run-ins with law enforcement. The 43-year-old was convicted of assault by pointing a gun in 2008 and felony possession of cocaine in 1990.
Neighbors said investigators were back at the home Saturday morning.
One neighbor, who declined to be identified Saturday, said officers were searching for shell casings from the home.
Rowan County Fire Marshal Tom Murphy did not respond to phone messages left Friday and Saturday.
Spencer Police Sgt. Wayne Comer said he had no information to provide about the case.
Hasty said authorities told her they had to wait for the fire investigation to conclude before warrants could be obtained.
“They told me there was nothing they could do until after the investigation and then they could get warrants and go catch him,” she said.
Hasty said she’s frustrated with the investigation and feels like she’s in danger.
“I have no faith in the police,” she said. “They’ve never done anything to help me in this situation.”
Brandon Walker, another one of Hasty’s children, said the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are providing aid for family members.
They weren’t able to save anything from the home, he said, but it could have been worse.
“I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.