Suspect cried after death of chef in arson fire, ex-girlfriend says

James D. Williams III accused of murder in a fire at a North Main Street bar.

DAYTON — When James D. Williams III left home, he told his girlfriend he was going to do “a job.” When he returned with a couple of hundred dollars, he asked her to watch the television news for him.

And when he learned that someone had died in the fire at the Club Ivy bar, Williams was mortified, his former girlfriend testified Tuesday, July 28, in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

“He was crying on my shoulder every night,” Valerie Heyes said.

Williams, 28, is on trial for three counts of aggravated arson, three counts of murder and two counts of possession of criminal tools.

The Aug. 26 fire at the club, 3509 N. Main St., claimed the life of Robert C. Fabia, 50, who was the chef. Fabia, who often slept there on a couch in the back, was found dead in the kitchen area.

Also Tuesday, Williams’ mother Darla testified that on Aug. 25, she drove her son to the muffler shop next to the bar, where he left a ladder and a full can of gas. She said believed her son, who did odd jobs, was planning legitimate work.

She also said her son confessed to her that he set the fire, because he was so upset about Fabia’s death. Her son did not know that Fabia was there, she said.

“He was feeling a lot of remorse,” Darla Williams said.

Dayton fire investigator Victoria Carr testified that she found a ladder next to the club. Her investigation showed that the perpetrator poured gasoline down a roof vent, then set it on fire, she said.

The gasoline probably collected on top of the ceiling tiles. After the fire spread, the ceiling collapsed, spreading the blaze across the club, Carr said.

The trial, before Judge Mary Wiseman, started Monday and will continue Wednesday.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2057 or lgrieco@Dayton

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