Ex-Salisbury man pleads to setting Franklin house fire

GUY WHEELER

FRANKLIN — A former Salisbury man will serve five to 10 years in state prison after pleading guilty to setting a fire that burned down a Franklin home last December.

Guy Wheeler, 57, will serve this punishment for a guilty plea to arson that he entered in Merrimack County Superior Court.

Home surveillance recordings showed Wheeler had broken into 11 Rose Lane in Franklin last Dec. 3, burglarized the residence and then set combustible items on the kitchen stove to start a fire, officials said.

State Fire Marshal Paul J. Parisi said the fire destroyed the home, damaged a car in the driveway and then melted the siding of neighboring residences.

No one was injured in the incident but Parisi said arson fires are not victimless crimes because of the devastation they cause and the risk to first responders.

Tips from area residents led investigators to identify Wheeler as the suspect and he was arrested last Dec. 20 and had been held in the Merrimack County House of Corrections.

Wheeler also pleaded guilty to felony burglary, criminal mischief and reckless conduct.

For those crimes he received sentences of five-to-10 years for burglary and three and a half to seven years each for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

All those three punishments will be suspended 10 years upon release of Wheeler from prison if he remains on good behavior, officials said.