Death and destruction

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SUN PHOTO BY MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE Authorities are investigating a house fire that occurred early Tuesday morning on  the 700 block of Riviera Lane in Port Charlotte. A man's body was found inside.

SUN PHOTO BY MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE
Authorities are investigating a house fire that occurred early Tuesday morning on the 700 block of Riviera Lane in Port Charlotte. A man’s body was found inside.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Authorities found a man’s body Tuesday in the garage of a Port Charlotte home that had been the site of an attempted shooting and arson hours earlier.

Donald Hierspiel, 51, allegedly broke into a home on the 700 block of Riviera Lane around 2:47 a.m., threatening a woman with a firearm and firing multiple times, and then set the house on fire, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman who owns the home, whom authorities said once had a ‘domestic relationship’ with Hierspiel, was able to escape without injury and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911, according to Charlotte County Fire/EMS spokeswoman Dee Hawkins-Garland.

Around noon, authorities found the body of white male in the garage but would not say if it was Hierspiel.

‘We still need to identify the body, and until we do that we have to continue to look for Hierspiel,’ said Debbie Bowe, spokeswoman for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

The body was removed from the scene around 1 p.m. Bowe said an autopsy will determine whether the remains are that of Hierspiel.

There was no one else living in the residence at the time of the blaze, according to Bowe.

The fire raged for 30 to 40 minutes before firefighters could extinguish the flames. Hawkins-Garland said the house was destroyed. The blaze is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Neighbors Gerald and Fe Glatt, who live adjacent to the home, said their dog awoke them by barking in the middle of the night. When they looked outside their window and saw the house, a single-story stucco structure built in 2000, engulfed in flames. They fled, fearing the fire would spread to their home.

‘We congregated in the street trying to figure out what to do,’ Gerald said. ‘The police told us to go back inside, but the fire was so close we said no thanks, we will stay here.’

Initially, authorities thought Hierspiel may have been inside the home with a gun, so emergency personnel had to wait for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office to clear the scene before firefighters could enter.

‘We had to make sure the perimeter was safe before anyone could enter,’ Bowe said. ‘That includes firefighters, because we did not want to risk lives over property.’

While emergency personnel fought the fire, the CCSO Major Crimes Unit began a manhunt for Hierspiel, bringing in K-9 units to help with a search.

‘All I know is the SWAT team and K-9 units were involved,’ said John Ramaglia, who lives one house down. ‘They were all around the neighborhood early (Tuesday) morning.’

The search crossed county lines and extended into North Port during the night.

At the request of the CCSO, the North Port Police Department responded to a residence in the 3300 block of West Price Boulevard at about 3:37 a.m., surrounding the house in case Hierspiel was inside, according to Lt. Gary Aresenault of the NPPD. Hierspiel was not there.

The victim has had a temporary domestic violence injunction against Hierspiel since May 10, court records show. Hierspiel was not notified that the injunction had become permanent until June 7.

Ramaglia said Hierspiel lived at the residence but moved out about a month ago.

On May 31, the victim posted on her Facebook page: ‘No more hate and discontent. No more mud wallowing and middle school games. No more looking backward when there’s so much to look forward to!’

Hierspiel is a convicted felon, according to the Florida Department of Corrections, and has been incarcerated on and off since 1995 in Broward and Volusia counties, serving prison time on charges ranging from grand theft to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, to driving with a suspended license.

According to his Facebook profile, Hierspiel owned an electronics company and had studied at Charlotte Technical Center.

About 12 hours before the fire occurred, Hierspiel posted an e-card that read, ‘I hope you choke on all the (expletive) you talk.’ A few hours later, his last post included the message, ‘A best friend is there when you have nothing and more importantly, when you feel like nothing.’

Staff writer Drew Winchester contributed to this report.

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com

PORT CHARLOTTE — Authorities found a man’s body Tuesday in the garage of a Port Charlotte home that had been the site of an attempted shooting and arson hours earlier.

Donald Hierspiel, 51, allegedly broke into a home on the 700 block of Riviera Lane around 2:47 a.m., threatening a woman with a firearm and firing multiple times, and then set the house on fire, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman who owns the home, whom authorities said once had a ‘domestic relationship’ with Hierspiel, was able to escape without injury and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911, according to Charlotte County Fire/EMS spokeswoman Dee Hawkins-Garland.

Around noon, authorities found the body of a white male in the garage but would not say if it was Hierspiel.

‘We still need to identify the body, and until we do that we have to continue to look for Hierspiel,’ said Debbie Bowe, spokeswoman for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

The body was removed from the scene around 1 p.m. Bowe said an autopsy will determine whether the remains are those of Hierspiel.

There was no one else living in the residence at the time of the blaze, according to Bowe.

The fire raged for 30 to 40 minutes before firefighters could extinguish the flames. Hawkins-Garland said the house was destroyed. The blaze is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Neighbors Gerald and Fe Glatt, who live adjacent to the home, said their dog awoke them by barking in the middle of the night. When they looked outside their window and saw the house, a single-story stucco structure built in 2000, engulfed in flames. They fled, fearing the fire would spread to their home.

‘We congregated in the street trying to figure out what to do,’ Gerald said. ‘The police told us to go back inside, but the fire was so close we said no thanks, we will stay here.’

Initially, authorities thought Hierspiel may have been inside the home with a gun, so emergency personnel had to wait for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office to clear the scene before firefighters could enter.

‘We had to make sure the perimeter was safe before anyone could enter,’ Bowe said. ‘That includes firefighters, because we did not want to risk lives over property.’

While emergency personnel fought the fire, the CCSO Major Crimes Unit began a manhunt for Hierspiel, bringing in K-9 units to help with a search.

‘All I know is the SWAT team and K-9 units were involved,’ said John Ramaglia, who lives one house down. ‘They were all around the neighborhood early (Tuesday) morning.’

The search crossed county lines and extended into North Port during the night.

At the request of the CCSO, the North Port Police Department responded to a residence in the 3300 block of West Price Boulevard at about 3:37 a.m., surrounding the house in case Hierspiel was inside, according to Lt. Gary Aresenault of the NPPD. Hierspiel was not there.

The victim has had a temporary domestic violence injunction against Hierspiel since May 10, court records show. Hierspiel was not notified that the injunction had become permanent until June 7.

Ramaglia said Hierspiel lived at the residence but moved out about a month ago.

On May 31, the victim posted on her Facebook page: ‘No more hate and discontent. No more mud wallowing and middle school games. No more looking backward when there’s so much to look forward to!’

Hierspiel is a convicted felon, according to the Florida Department of Corrections, and has been incarcerated on and off since 1995 in Broward and Volusia counties, serving prison time on charges ranging from grand theft to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, to driving with a suspended license.

According to his Facebook profile, Hierspiel owned an electronics company and had studied at Charlotte Technical Center.

About 12 hours before the fire occurred, Hierspiel posted an e-card that read, ‘I hope you choke on all the (expletive) you talk.’ A few hours later, his last post included the message, ‘A best friend is there when you have nothing and more importantly, when you feel like nothing.’

Staff writer Drew Winchester contributed to this report.

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