Steamboat Springs While attempting to cover up a crime, Matthew John Hoffman allegedly committed an even bigger crime, police believe.
Hoffman, 19, set fire to a townhome at The Ridge to cover up a burglary he committed at the unit prior to the Aug. 28 fire, a court file states.
Hoffman made his first court appearance Wednesday morning in District Court. Judge Joel S. Thompson set bond at $35,000 for the Warren, Ohio, man.
His next scheduled court appearance is at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
The majority of the bond, $25,000, is for the arson that destroyed two townhouses and damaged eight others at the eight-unit building on Storm Meadows Drive.
Hoffman is facing three felony charges in connection to the arson and burglary: first-degree arson, second-degree burglary and aggravated motor vehicle theft.
The rest of the bond, $10,000, is for Hoffman's alleged theft of two wooden signs that welcome visitors to Steamboat Springs. The signs were allegedly stolen by Hoffman in July.
He has been charged with felony theft for taking the signs, worth $5,000 each.
Hoffman was arrested by Steamboat Springs police Tuesday morning after he agreed to travel from Ohio and talk to them about the stolen signs.
The signs were recovered by authorities Sept. 7 at Hoffman's prior home in Steamboat, an apartment at the D Bar K Motel, 35495 U.S. 40.
During the interview Tuesday, Hoffman confessed to police he stole the signs and set the fire at the townhome, the file states.
Before the interview, authorities suspected Hoffman might be linked to the arson.
Hoffman had access to the townhome through his prior place of employment in Steamboat, Scott Barnes Plumbing, the file states.
While installing a garbage disposal in the unit, Hoffman took keys to the townhome and to a Chevrolet Suburban. He found the keys in a kitchen drawer, the file states.
On Aug. 27, Hoffman stole numerous items from the townhome, including big game trophy mounts, and put the stolen goods in the owner's Suburban. Prior to the burglary, he had entered the townhome illegally on five different occasions, the file states.
After the burglary, he drove the vehicle to a parking lot at the Clocktower and left it there.
Hoffman then bought two five-gallon gas tanks and filled them with gasoline, the file states.
In the early morning hours of Aug. 28, Hoffman allegedly poured gas in every room of the townhome and set the fire to cover up the burglary, the file states.
He planned to retrieve the stolen vehicle later in the day, but police had already recovered it.
Sixteen people had to be evacuated from The Ridge during the fire.
After the fire, Hoffman left town and returned to Ohio. Workers at the D Bar K found the signs in Hoffman's apartment and called authorities.
During a Sept. 14 telephone call with authorities, Hoffman admitted to stealing the signs and agreed to return to Steamboat, the file states.
One of the signs Hoffman allegedly stole has been put back up at West Lincoln Park. The second sign was damaged and is being repaired.