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ARSON DESTROYS MANCHESTER RESIDENCE – CAUSES DEATH WHITING WOMAN CHARGED

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced today the results of an investigation by Detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office Arson Task Force and the Manchester Township Police Department into the April 7, 2017 structure fire at 3 Kingfisher Way, Manchester, New Jersey.   That investigation has led to the June 21, 2017, arrest of Dianna Lynn Wills, 66, of Martin Drive in Whiting, NJ.  Wills is charged with 2nd degree Aggravated Arson and 2nd degree Manslaughter for the structure fire. It should be noted the investigation continues and the stated charges may be amended or expanded.  Wills is lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Wills’ arrest stems from Friday, April 7, 2017, when at approximately 9:35 P.M., a structure fire was reported at 3 Kingfisher Way, Manchester Township.  The Manchester Fire and Police Departments responded to the location.  Initial responding officers reported they observed the structure fully involved in fire with flames protruding from the roof.  The homeowner was able to safely exit the structure and summon assistance.  Unfortunately, the homeowner’s five dogs were trapped inside the residence and perished in the fire.  The fire ultimately consumed the majority of the structure, resulting in the Manchester Township Building Inspector deeming the dwelling uninhabitable.  The residence next to the structure fire, 160 Mockingbird Way, sustained heat damage and the homeowner, Steve Kundin, had to be transported from the fire scene to Community Medical Center for smoke inhalation.

An investigation into the origin, cause and circumstances surrounding the fire at 3 Kingfisher Way was completed.  The fire origin was determined to be near the North side of the residence entrance stairs. The cause of the fire was incendiary – an open flame was introduced to available combustibles.  Further investigation revealed Dianna Wills was at the front door of 3 Kingfisher Way prior to the homeowner discovering the fire and subsequently responsible for initiating the blaze.

On May 31, 2017, Steve Kundin died while hospitalized because of the 3 Kingfisher Way fire.  On June 4, 2017, the Designated Medical Examiner from the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office completed a post mortem examination of Mr. Kundin.  The Designated Medical Examiner determined Mr. Kundin’s death resulted from the smoke inhalation he suffered on April 7, 2017 and the death was ruled a homicide.

In addition to the Prosecutor’s Office Arson Task Force and the Manchester Police Department, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit and the Ocean County Fire Marshall’s Office assisted with the investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by OCPO Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Bridget Coughlin.

The media and public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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