Police: Group home resident intentionally set fire to mattress

Posted: Updated:
CENTRAL ISLIP -

A 38-year-old man is accused of intentionally setting fire to a mattress inside a Port Jefferson Station group home where he is a resident. 

Sheldon Whittingham, who lived at Options for Community Living, was arraigned on an arson charge in Central Islip Tuesday. 

The court ordered that Whittingham not return to the group home for the time being. The facility houses people with mental illnesses and chronic health conditions.

Suffolk police say a 6th Precinct patrol officer responded to the call for the fire. They say the officer saw the smoke coming from the second floor and quickly extinguished the flames. There were no injuries to other residents or staff during the incident.  

Whittingham's attorney says the only evidence against his client is the word of another resident who claims Whittingam was the only one in the room at the time of the incident.

"Even if he did it, there are serious questions whether he's competent to stand trial in this matter.  We are going to be asking for a hearing regarding that," says attorney William Sammis. 

Staff at the group home had no comment for News 12 about the incident. Whittingham is due back in court on Friday.
 

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