EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – A $1 million cash bond is set for an Eau Claire man accused of setting his home on fire.
41-year-old Thomas Hicks is in Eau Claire County jail tonight. He faces seven counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, seven counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of arson.
According to the criminal complaint, Hicks starting a fire to get revenge is repeated behavior.
Just after midnight on Friday, Eau Claire Police and Fire responded to the 700 block of Hobart Street for a structure fire. Investigators learned there were four adults and three children asleep in the house when the fire started–all of whom made it out safely.
Officers learned this was not an accident. Police say Hicks was upset at his wife of seven years who he accused of cheating. So, he sent her a message while she was at work that read, “You are going to be sorry” — then he started a fire in a downstairs bedroom and left the house. Something Hicks also did in 2009 when he thought his then-wife was cheating on him.
Eau Claire Police were able to arrest Hicks early Friday morning during a traffic stop.
“There are a lot of moving parts in something like this,” said Josh Miller with the Eau Claire Police Department. “Fortunately, our patrol officers responded quickly and were able to develop a suspect right away. After that, it’s a matter of interviewing everyone involved, including children if they are able to be. We will work closely with the DA’s office to make sure all evidence supports the proper charges and go from there.”
Hicks has a preliminary hearing set for Tuesday, Feb. 1.
One of the adult victims, Luke Zarm, says the family is currently staying in a hotel. If you would like to support them, click here.
An Eau Claire man is charged with 15 felony counts, including attempted homicide and arson, after allegedly setting fire to a home in Eau Claire on Jan. 21.
The Eau Claire Police Department arrested 41-year-old Thomas Hicks of Eau Claire Friday.
According to court documents, Hicks set fire to a home on Hobart Street with seven people inside, including three children ranging in age from 3 to 7 years old as well as four adults and three dogs. First responders arrived at the fire at approximately 12:54 a.m. on Jan. 21. Eau Claire Police and the Eau Claire Fire Department found the house on fire, but everyone inside had already evacuated and no one was hurt. During the initial investigation, police learned the fire had been set intentionally. Hicks was seen leaving the scene in a vehicle and was taken into custody.
Hicks admitted to investigators that he had been convicted of arson before, and said he did it because his ex-wife had cheated on him. Hicks also told investigators he believed his current wife was cheating on him. During the interview, Hicks told police he started the fire, and while they left the room he threw a lighter away in the trash. When he was asked about the lighter, Hicks said that it was the lighter he used to start the fire.
Hicks’ wife was not at home at the time but arrived home from work to find the house on fire. She told police that she had been arguing with Hicks through text messages earlier in the night and said that she was aware Hicks had previously set fire to a home he shared with his ex-wife at the time.
Online court records show that Hicks was charged in Eau Claire County Circuit Court Tuesday with seven counts of attempted 1st-degree intentional homicide, seven counts of 1st-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of arson. All of the charges are filed with both domestic abuse and repeater modifiers. Hicks is due in court next on Feb. 1 for a preliminary hearing and is being held on a $1 million cash bond.
Hicks was convicted of arson in 2010 in Oneida County and sentenced to four years in prison, four years of extended supervision and five years of probation, according to online court records.ADVERTISEMENT
The Eau Claire Police Department credits the Eau Claire Fire Department, Eau Claire City Transit, Wisconsin Department of Human Services, Victim Witness Services and Crisis Response, the Eau Claire District Attorney’s Office and the Red Cross of Wisconsin with assistance in the fire and investigation.
According to the Eau Claire Fire Department, one firefighter was hurt while crews worked to put out the fire.