Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Jury hears Rose admit setting fire at apartment

February 9, 2007


Police interview of Jason Rose

Video shown to jurors of the interrogation of Jason Allen Rose after the Boardwalk Fire in 2005. Enlarge video

Jason Rose's confession came in brief blurts of words broken by blocks of silence.

"I lit paper on fire, and thought it was out," Rose told investigators during a videotaped interview.

Minutes passed without Rose saying a word. Investigators pressed on.

"I tried to put it out," he said finally, "with a mat."

The confession to perhaps starting the Boardwalk Apartments fire came only after hours of prodding from investigators in an interrogation room.

Jurors in Rose's murder and arson trial Friday saw one day's worth of taped interviews with police conducted Oct. 10, 2005, three days after fire gutted the apartment building and killed three people. Next week, jurors will watch a second tape of interviews conducted the following day - after Rose had already been arrested in connection with the fire.

But in court Friday, jurors watched Rose talk about the night of the fire. His confession was near the end of an almost five-hour interview. The paper he lit on fire contained a phone number of a man who, days earlier, tried to sell him marijuana, Rose said. The pressure to buy the drug made him upset, he told investigators during the interview.

The doormat he used to try to extinguish the fire after he saw it spreading across the second floor's wooden railing came from in front of a neighbor's door, he said during the interview.

Rose's attorney, Ron Evans, has contended since opening statements Wednesday that Rose confessed only because he was pressured into it - that he would have said whatever was necessary to appease police Sgt. Troy Squire and Christy Weidner, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The tape played for jurors Friday gave some insight into Rose's past.

When the staff at Elm Acres group home in Pittsburg wouldn't let Rose watch the "Power Rangers" television show, Rose decided to take a lighter out of his roommate's top dresser drawer and burn something.

Audio Clips
Boardwalk Fire trial witness testimony, day 3

"I took a lighter from a roommate and lit a glove on fire," Rose told Squire during the taped interview. "I kind of got even with the house staff."

The confession came after Rose repeatedly denied he knew anything about the glove fire - a fire police learned about from SRS records.

"I'm telling you the honest truth. I've never done anything like that," Rose said after Squire questioned him about the incident.

Squire pressured Rose more as he denied the glove fire.

"Is that because we're talking about a fire at your apartment?" Squire asked during the taped interview.

"No," Rose said. "I don't remember ever, ever doing that."

"I think you do. I think you do, Jason."

"No," Rose said again.

"I think you do, and you're not telling us because of what we're investigating," Squire said.

Rose eventually admitted he was just curious about fire. Squire asked Rose if his curiosity stemmed from his history of abuse - for example, the scars he had on his arms where his father allegedly burned him with a cigarette lighter.

As the interview went on, Squire and ATF agent Weidner inched closer to Rose, telling him repeatedly that if he wanted to be a good person he should tell the truth - and sometimes stretching the truth about the kind of evidence investigators back at the scene were gathering about the fire.

"I elaborated that there were scientists, and they were testing stuff. I have no direct knowledge of how they reconstruct stuff," Squire told Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan after the tape stopped playing for the day.

During the interview, Rose repeatedly denied having anything to do with the Boardwalk Apartments fire. But at the end of the interview, after saying he had lit the paper on fire on the second-floor walkway, Rose asked Squire what would happen if fire investigators found a different cause for the blaze.

After the hourslong interview session, Rose fell asleep at the small white table in the interrogation room, Squire said. By about midnight that night, Oct. 10, 2005, Squire arrested Rose.

"It was just weirdly calm," Squire said of the arrest. "He just said: 'OK.'"


Bladerunner 11 years, 3 months ago

I don't believe he ever tried to put it out. Why would he? If he did really pick up the neighbor's mat, he probably fanned the flames with it.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 3 months ago

Why not use water? or even a wet towel? I understand this kid has problems....BUY....In my opinion he is a firebug who in his inner heart liked the power he wielded over the lives of total strangers.

m1983 11 years, 3 months ago

so.. according to him, he lit a piece of paper on fire, watched it spread to the neighbors door, tried to put it out with a mat, then walked back to his apt and watched TV. the freaking psycho needs the worst possible punishment

areyouserious 11 years, 3 months ago

This dude is not psycho, I wish people would quit using that excuse.......he is a completely normal human being like the rest of us and he needs to be held accountable for this terrible act that he did. I am tired of judges ruling insanity for criminals, allowing them to live. This shmuck needs to pay for what he did. Justice needs to be served. He admitted to setting the fire. What other evidence do you need? He knew what he was doing and he had the choice to not light that fire. Wrong Choice Case Closed...........another dead man walking.

caveatguy 11 years, 3 months ago

"The confession to perhaps starting the Boardwalk Apartments fire" . Perhaps? Perhaps?

m1983 11 years, 3 months ago

i used psycho as a term, i think he needs to be held 100% accountable, that's what i meany by "needs the worst possible punnishment"

Leandra Galindo 11 years, 3 months ago

He is 100% guilty...why don't he just admit it...and quit wasting taxpayers money...all I know my friend had to die due to his life will not be the same, because I lost someone who was very dear to me.
Rest In Peace, Alonz

hhibp107 11 years, 3 months ago

he might be innocent. he lit the peice of paper in order to loose a phone number? the building burnt by accident.

KUred06 11 years, 3 months ago

Please keep in mind that your comments are read by friends and family of victims.

m1983 11 years, 3 months ago

hhibp - how is it possible that he is innocent with what you are saying he LIT the piece of paper on fire.. =

punky 11 years, 3 months ago

i am a victom and im not really sure what to think about all this. i just found out about the trial yesterday sadly. its just heartbreaking. i honestly believe he will just get put in a mental institution instead of having to pay for what he has done. i just dont know what to think. it just makes me sick. he lit the fire. he said that he started it then went back to watch tv and then decided to call the fire department. because of that he killed 3 people and left me and others homeless and injured. i dont see how he is innocent. :( sorry.

denak 11 years, 3 months ago

Just out of curiosity, where was his lawyer during this interrogation? And if he didn't have one, why doesn't his lawyers try and get this "confession" thrown out?

I have been a foster parent for 3 years and there are things that he says that make sense. A lot of abused children have memory problems. It is a defense mechanism. They put so much effort into trying to forget things that happened in the past, that they literally forget everyday things. I don't know if one can forget something like setting a glove on fire at a group home but I suppose it is within the realm of possibility.

Also, the fact that he went to sleep after the interrogation isn't indicative or guilt or a lack of concious. Sleeping is an escape mechanism. We all do it. When we have had a stressful day or something stressful has happened, we go take a nap or go to bed early.

Also, the fact that he was so calm when he was arrested isn't strange either. Most foster care kids have issues with the police. They are very distrustful of them because the police are so tied into traumatic events in their life. The police would come to their house when someone was being beat up. The police took them away from their home etc...... I have had very few kids who have liked the police. I had a toddler once who would talk about wanting to shoot the police. Most foster kids who grow up in foster care or who age out, have spent a lifetime putting their needs aside and conforming to whatever home they live in. The police are a big authority figure and I can see where he would just say "ok" He knows he can't fight the police so why bother.

The fact that he went back to his apartment and watched t.v. is disturbing. But if the fire had already started, why would he go back and watch t.v. Most people want to get away from a fire. If he knew the railing was on fire, why would he go back into his apartment? Why would he risk it?

I think it is more than plausible that he said whatever the police wanted to hear. Given his background and his behavior.

I am not privy to his psychological evaluation or his background or anything else so I don't know what kind of person Jason Rose.

I was working as a para at the time of the fire and one of my little girls lived in those apartment.

I also had a foster daughter who knew him from a previous group home. She absolutely believes he is innocent.

I don't know.

If he willfully set this fire and let these people die, then he should get the maximum penalty.

If he accidently set the fire, then that should be taken into account.

The thing that speaks badly of him is that he did not try to help. I'm not totally familiar with the timeline but there doesn't seem to be any attempt on his part to warn people.

If I caused a fire, I would be running from apartment to apartment banging on doors and trying to get people out.

And he didn't. I think that is the one thing that is going to damn him.

dthroat 11 years, 3 months ago

Denak - His lawyers DID try to get the confession thrown out and they LOST. The judge already ruled it could come in and his rights were not violated. Therefore they are switching tatics and saying there are all these great pscy. problems and he didn't knowwhat he was doing when confessing.

As for the other points, I don't have the time or energy to get into all of that. Don't even want to get started on the mind of a 7 year old, even though he was working full time and living on hisown.

denak 11 years, 3 months ago


People confess to crimes that they didn't commit all the time. It is a very real phenomenon. It happens more then we think.

Is this what is happening with Jason. I don't know. I haven't personally seen the interrogation tapes. I haven't ever met or spoken with him. Nor have I read his background files or read his psych. evals. So, I don't know if he fits the "profile" of someone who would confess to a crime that they didn't commit. Or confess to certain aspects of a crime.

The whole thing about Jason having a mind of a 7 year old that could easily be verified by obtaining past psychiatric, school, and foster care records. Being a foster child, he is going to have tons of records. If there is a long history of problems, one wouldn't even have to use the court appoint psychiatrist. Those files would tell you everything you need to know about his mental, emotional and cognitive abilities.

As for his ability to work and live on his own, the statistics for foster children aging out and being sucessful at it, is woeful. Too many of these kids end up in different "systems" ie prison or welfare.

I don't know if he was in a program to help him cope with living on his own or what, but if he was, then the social worker or whoever who is in charge of it, could testify as to how well he was doing.

The fact that he set his apartment building, whether intentionally or unintentionally, on fire, pretty tells us, he wasn't doing it well.

As I said before, I don't know Jason Rose. I don't know what kind of person he is.

But I do know how most foster kids think. And some of what is being said, makes a lot of sense. I, also, know that a lot of people have extreme prejudices when it comes to children in the system. People tend to think badly of them. They tend to think they are "damaged" and "bad." Foster children, as a whole, tend to be punished harder in school, by society, and by the juvenile justice system.

How much all of this plays into it all, I don't know but I think we need to be consider how much his past plays a part in his life.

This doesn't mean he should "get off" if he is guilty.

If he willfully and maliciously started this fire, he should be punished.

If he accidently started the fire, that should be taken in consideration by the jury and by the judge.


m1983 11 years, 3 months ago

Dena, What you're saying makes sense, but as someone who personally knew Nicole Bingham very well, it's hard for me to see, or care about his past and think it should play a role in his punishments. For people who were involved either as victims, or loved ones of victims, he set a fire that caused major trauma to hundreds of people, there needs to be accountability for that, despite his mental capacity or his upbringing. truth is, if his foster experience, and homelife are taken into consideration and influence his punishment, what is that going to say to other people? that if you have a crappy childhood, you'll get off easier than someone who didn't? his actions are his actions, i really feel like the intent at this point is pretty clear.. for him to have walked away and not responded, paniced, banged on doors to get people out etc, shows that he couldn't care less. if he would have freaked out and tried to get help and save people, that would be different in my mind. he has no remorse, he doesn't care about what he did, and so letting him off easier because of his past is ridiculous and probably will put more people at risk.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 3 months ago

m1983 - It is interesting that society expects someone who is "innocent until proven guilty" to have remorse. Jason is very sorry that the apartments burned down; however, he has been consistent in stating that he did not start the fire. The exception to this consistency is when he was led by Detective Squires through a possible scenario that could have started the fire. This confession was given after five hours of taped interview plus four hours before that was not taped. Jason was repeatedly told, by Detective Squires that he was lying; he then told Jason that if he wanted to be a "good person" then he must confess. The jury will see the second day of interviews Monday. That set will show the Detective changing the scenario to match what fire experts said was needed to provide combustion. This interview will show that Detective Squires lied to Jason in order to get him to change the story. He will then create a new scenario that Jason will be required to confess to.

This is in line with Jason's behavior throughout his life. Jason does not cope well with being grilled. He will confess to something in order to "get out of trouble". Where the emotional age plays a part is that Jason sees the questioning as a consequence that he does not deserve. He will therefore say what someone wants to hear in order to get out of this consequence. His mind does not perceive the eventual consequences of an act he did not commit as belonging to him because he did not do the act.

It is also noteworthy that the Detective asked Jason to write down his version of the events on that evening. Jason wrote what he had told detectives (and many others) that he had done that evening; he signed the report. When asked to write the coerced confession he did so but refused to sign. The second confession (the one corrected by Squire's lying to Jason) Jason refused to write.

What you are missing, m1983, is that the defense is not claiming a light sentence or innocence due to a mental defect. The defense is simply stating that Jason's confession was false due to his emotional age. Had Jason's confession been true the defense would already have plead this out.

denak 11 years, 3 months ago


I am sorry for your loss. It is not my intention, in any way, to minimize the suffering of those who suffered in the fire and those who lost loved one.

If Jason is guilty of the crimes he commited, he should be held accountable.

Nor am I suggesting that just because one has a crappy childhood, one should be held less accountable for their actions.

Like you, I think intent should be key.

I, also, think that this individual deserves to a fair trial. I do not see any purpose in railroading him.

To do so, would only undermine the authority of the court and public confidence in the justice system.

It goes both ways. For the courts to run properly, people should not be allowed to make "bogus" claims for their actions but for justice to be served, the court must also take in account, the mindframe of an individual, whether or not a person understands right from wrong, and if there were any mitigating circumstances.

And I think it is important to understand the nature of his confession... was he swayed by the police or did he do so with full understanding of his actions.

To be honest, I'm just thankful I'm not on the jury.


Kali Kaufman 11 years, 3 months ago

For crying out loud thinkb4uspeak, it is Squire not Squires

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