Homeless KC man charged with arson in apartment fire that injured multiple people

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City man has been charged with trying to torch an apartment building earlier this year.

Rodney Boyles, 35, was charged with one count of arson Friday in connection to the January fire at a building located at 11th Street and Benton Boulevard.

Three were hospitalized for their injuries after they had to be rescued. One person jumped to escape the flames. Eight families were displaced following the fire.

According to charging documents, Boyles admitted to intentionally setting the fire near a storage area on the first floor with a cigarette lighter. He also told investigators he was under the influence of a controlled substance.

Court records also say Boyles was homeless and stayed with his girlfriend and her son in the building days before the fire.

“It breaks my heart, you know. There were a lot of families in that building,” said Heather Healy, who lives nearby. “To have so many people displaced because of arson is really sad.”

Some neighbors told FOX4 the building has been a problem spot — not only before the fire, but also after.

FOX4 was able to find at least two complaints from neighbors in the last week reporting code violations to the city.

In one complaint, it states someone called “to report various trash and drug materials left all over the property. Structure was burned down and nothing has been done to improve or demolish building.”

A city spokesperson said the building’s owner is getting bids to demolish the building, but there wasn’t enough damage to do an emergency demolition.  

Another report states: “This property is open to entry. States boards have been torn down and people are going in and out and using drugs.”

“I think both are related to drug use and activities late at night,” a Benton Boulevard neighbor told FOX4. “[The city] knows there is activity in the area, and I think the patrols have been beefed up a little bit.”

While neighbors said there are a lot of problems, some said they’re relieved the mystery of what happened in this fire is now solved.

Boyles was arrested Thursday and is currently in federal custody. 

The case was charged federally because a fire victim was renting through the ReStart program, impacting interstate and foreign commerce.

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