NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday afternoon, someone first burglarized, then set fire to the home of a well-known Trumbull County businessman and Newton Falls city councilman.
John Baryak is okay and his house on N. Canal Street can be repaired. But the question that still needs to be answered is — who did it?
Around 1 p.m., he and one of his Baryak Tree Service employees realized something was wrong.
“He said, ‘You’d better call the police, the house has been broken into!’ I looked to the side and he said, ‘John, the house is on fire!'” Baryak said.
The burglar broke into the house and stole jewelry and a bag of silver coins, worth maybe $200.
What they did next could have been even more costly.
“They turned the gas stove on and put the jewelry box — it was a wood jewelry box — and let it cook and walked out of the house,” Baryak said.
A section of cabinets in the kitchen burned. The National Fire and Water Repair arrived Monday to start making the house livable again.
To help with the investigation, Newton Falls police called in Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“For both latent prints and also DNA, in which they were successfully able to lift,” said Newton Falls Police Chief Gene Fixler.
Fixler would not say if they have any suspects yet.
Baryak refused to speculate on who may have done it but thinks whoever did it knew what they were after, not only because of what they took, but because of what they didn’t take.
“I had a lot of guns in there. Pistols, guns, shotguns, riot guns. They didn’t take any guns,” he said.
A half-hour earlier and it may have been different.
“I’d have walked in on them,” Baryak said. “Then, you know what? I mean, that would have been a different story.”
Despite everything, Baryak made sure he attended Monday night’s Newton Falls City Council meeting — still dressed in his sweatshirt because his suits smelled like smoke.
He does not think the burglary or fire had anything to do with decisions he’s made on city council.