report of the elderly arsonist off to jail for 10 years for torching the family dwelling for the insurance. Apparently, Mr. Beckerman, a vain man, who wore a toupee and dyed his hair and facial hair black, had a penchant for burning down his various homesteads. A suspicious fire in the 1973 claimed a previous house.
Beckerman was a West Hartford businessman, and his story is one of financial mess, upon financial mess and the arson fire was a last gambit to avoid further disgrace. The Judge was not moved by family pleas for mercy. Judge Thomas V. O'Keefe who convicted Beckerman on overwhelming evidence of arson, said he took no pleasure in sending an elderly man to prison for what could turn out to be a "life sentence," but that the crime was so dangerous particularly as it related to the firefighters who responded to the blaze that he felt that he needed to send a message with his sentencing decision to deter financial planning through arson fires.
There was an area of OurTown in the Heights near the Universities that had a succession of businesses in one specific corner of a retail street that seemed to go boom, bust, fire, boom, bust, and fire. Arson is a hard crime to prove because it usually depends on circumstantial evidence. In Beckerman's case there was a lawnmower with a hand-fashioned wick sticking out of the gas tank and paper with accelerants wound through out the house and in and over furniture. There was a $300,000 lien against the residence at the time of the fire.
I like this story because Beckerman is an interesting figure. If you have a moment, click on the link to the Hartford Courant coverage of the arson trial with the various pictures of Beckerman. I'll leave it to my Jewish friends to supply the appropriate appellation from Yiddish for who Beckerman is. . .?