YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Just before 10:00 on Monday morning, a demolition crew tore down a house on Powers Way eight months after three were killed inside when it caught fire.
Prosecutors say Robert Seman set the house on fire, where Bill and Judy Schmidt used to live with their 10-year-old granddaughter, Corinne Gump. This happened in late March on the same day he was set to begin a trial for allegedly raping the young girl. Robert was charged with ten counts of murder after the investigation of the fire.
A crowd of people, family and neighbors had formed, waiting to see the house come down. Everyone says they are feeling mixed emotions.
Triple Diamonds in Hubbard demolished the house free of charge. Owner Rebecca Bretz says it’s something she’s doing for the entire community.
“It’s important for me to give back to the community,” she said.
Bretz has talked to Bill and Judy’s children, who were there to watch the house come down. Family members are happy it’s gone. Driving past it reminded them of the tragedy and brought back too much pain.
“We all live in close proximity of this and having to pass it every day, it got to the point we were making detours to get around the house,” said Christine Seman, Corinne’s aunt.
“I’m glad it’s gone, but I want my granddaughter back,” Marcia Braden said.
Braden held on tightly to her family as she watched the house Corinne died in come down.
“This has just affected and hurt so many lives and so many families. Not just the Gump’s, but the Schmidt’s, the Seman family,” Christine said.
Days like today are sensitive for them as they try to move forward.
“It will be much slower of a process to try to allow the family the time and the grieving that they need in order to see this process happen,” Bretz said.
The family says this demolition is one step closer to the healing process and they’re counting on each other to get through the tough times.
“It’s a different struggle every day and we still have the trial to look forward to,” said Lisa Cappitti, Corinne’s stepmother. “It’s not even close to being over yet.”
Hearing about the demolition was emotional for Jean McCammon, who has lived across the street for 11 years.
“Every time you look over there, I see parts of them,” she said.
It took a little less than two hours to tear the house down. Bretz’s company wanted to take its time to show respect to the family as they watched.
“It was important to us to accomplish that for the city and for the family as well,” Bretz said.
After the demolition, a tree on the property that has special meaning to the community was still standing as something to remember the family by.