Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Public safety

St. Pete: Man charged with setting fatal fire at his home

ST. PETERSBURG — Alberta Dalke looked out her window Wednesday evening and saw flames.

The house across the street was on fire. Dalke called 911, joining a host of other residents in the Euclid-St. Paul neighborhood.

Dalke watched as one of her neighbors snaked a hose into a window at 1030 13th St. N.

Then she heard a man's screams.

"I thought he must be burning," Dalke said Thursday. "And then it was like all of a sudden the flames erupted in the back of the house."

A few minutes later, Dalke saw the man who lived there emerge from the house and collapse in the yard.

Firefighters arrived and whisked him away. But long after the fire was out, police detectives remained at the scene.

Dalke turned on the news later and found out why.

After firefighters put out the blaze, they found the body of a second person inside. He was identified Thursday as Robert Scott Greaves, 33, and an autopsy found he died of blunt-force trauma before the fire, police spokesman Bill Proffitt said.

On Thursday, authorities charged Dalke's neighbor, Daniel Thomas Papaleo, 60, with arson. Additional charges will depend on the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigation, Proffitt said.

As investigators combed through the scene Thursday afternoon, Dalke sat on her porch and watched.

"Why would a person want to burn their own house?" she murmured. "Must have been bad."

The two men are not strangers, police said. Greaves is the father of Papaleo's grandchild.

"Papaleo invited him over prior to the fire," Proffitt said, adding that police still aren't sure of the purpose of the visit.

Proffitt said police investigated a few domestic quarrels between Greaves and Papaleo's daughter within the past year. Police believe the couple shared a home together until recently.

Neighbors said they believe the young woman and the child, a toddler, have been staying with the grandparents.

"Obviously, there's some friction in the family," Proffitt said. "I believe the wife and daughter were out of town at the time of the fire."

Police said Papaleo intentionally set the blaze, which produced heavy smoke and 20- to 25-foot flames.

The fire was mostly confined to a screened-in porch area, but worked its way into the attic and other parts of the house before firefighters could extinguish it, said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata.

Investigators later found accelerant inside the home, Proffitt said.

Papaleo is currently under police guard at a hospital, where he is listed in stable condition, police said. Papaleo appeared to be suffering from smoke inhalation when firefighters arrived, Granata said.

A woman who answered a phone number listed as his wife's hung up Thursday when a reporter called. Greaves' family could not be reached for comment.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

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