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Alleged Arsonist's Arrest a 'Slap' in Community's Face

Over $1,700 in donations had been collected for the Nazareth woman who is accused of starting a fire that destroyed the townhouse she shared with her husband and son, leaving the donation drive's organizer feeling betrayed.

After a fire ripped through and , the Nazareth community -- and some individuals and businesses from surrounding communities -- saw a local family and neighbor in need.

Donations included:

  • Over $1,700 in gift cards, gift certificates and personal checks.
  • Toys, books and clothes.
  • The opportunity to shop for clothes at My Sister's Closet in Hanover Township.
  • A dining room table, a Pack 'N Play, a microwave and four tickets to attend an Iron Pigs game.
  • The  donated a one-year family membership.
  • Nine-hour fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar.

State Rep. Joe Emrick even dropped off three gift cards for the family of three, which consists of Rich and Karla Dewey and their 3-year-old son, Cole.

The generosity of the community, however, has been overshadowed by the arrest of Karla Dewey, 30, who is a hollowed-out shell.

Will Karla Dewey's case affect future giving in the Nazareth community? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

She also faces charges that stem from a 2009 arson case at , and is a person of interest in six other unsolved arsons / criminal mischief – suspicious fires in Nazareth, according to Police Chief Thomas Trachta.

Ben Miller, an  resident who helped spearhead the donation drive, said the news of Dewey's arraignment Monday afternoon was disappointing and "like a slap in the face to me and the entire Nazareth community."

“I led the fundraising efforts, just like the year before with the family," Miller wrote in an e-mail to Patch. "I put my name and reputation on the line for Karla and her family, asking others to donate and donating myself, both financially and with physical goods, like toys, clothes and a microwave."

Dewey's husband, a volunteer firefighter with the , also appears to be reeling from his wife's alleged actions.

On his public Facebook page, Rich Dewey wrote, "At 11:46 am today, my life has taken a turn for the worst..Not really sure how to recover from this..But I know I have some great friends and a wonderful family.."

Although the feeling of "betrayal" is weighing heavily on Miller -- who was behind the creation of a Facebook page called "Support Nazareth Fire Victims" -- he will continue "helping any other Nazareth family who faces such a profound loss and needs help."

Miller did, however, point out that 3-year-old Cole, who was home at the time of the fire, "lost all his toys because of someone else’s thoughtless and dangerous actions.”

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Robert Stocklas September 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Ben it seems to me that the only reason heis coming forward now is he wants a handout. If he truly was in the dire straights he claims imediately after the fire he would have been vocal then, especially when he heard of the donations to the other family. I find it interesting that he doesn't state that he was one of the victims but instead he was the victim, I guess he feels he was the only person affected by all this. It's really kind of pathetic that he is making a fuss now and trying to downplay the work you have done to help others. I feel sorry for him about the situation but I agree the inconsitencies in his story make you wonder what his real motive here is.
Jaime September 15, 2012 at 08:10 AM
Maybe Chuck has come forward because there is something fishy about all of this. The Red Cross has already helped him. When I first read about Mr. Miller's drive it struck me funny why only one family was the recipient of his largesse. Weren't six families forced to flee their homes?
Jaime September 15, 2012 at 10:24 AM
I apologize to Mr Miller for my statement about something being fishy. I do not mean to imply he knowingly did anything wrong. He was just too quick to make assumptions and apparently easily duped by Mrs. Dewey's story. This is why I prefer to give donations to a professional group i.e. the Red Cross or the Salvation Army who have resources which can sort things out. I know Mr. Miller meant well. His heart was in the right place.
Ben Miller September 15, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Look, I'm done with this. I have said my piece over and over, explaining what I did and why I did it. I gave you my sources and even a link to the newspaper article that day. Apparently, there is nothing I can say that will satisfy some people and I guess that's just the way it goes. It's just a shame that when someone tries to help a neighbor, you feel it's appropriate to post ignorant comments like these and the string of insults you threw at me on the other Patch article, months after the event occurred. Like I said before, I'm not a mind reader or an investigator, I'm just a local guy who tried to help. Unike the Red Cross, I don't keep a big portion of donations for "Administrative costs" and I certainly don't present people with a bill for the help they receive. Did you know the Red Cross did that? I learned about it after a fire in Allentown, when an elderly neighbor in a row home was put out of his house for a few days following a fire two units down from his. They billed him for their services. I called the Red Cross and was told that was, "The way we do business." To me, it's not about business and that's why I prefer neighbors helping neighbors. It's worked for many years and it's the way our parents and grandparents did things. Call me a fool if you want and say whatever you like about me, I'm a big boy and can take it. If, God-forbid, one day it's your house, you'll be asking for my help and I'll do everything I can to help you.
GreenEyes33 September 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
i would just like to say that i read this whole thread and i think we need more people like ben in the world. maybe i wouldnt have such a disgust for the general public. ben, i know i have never received help from you but i would like to thank you anyway. not many people would do what you do.

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