Old Saybrook arson warrant: 'We are both dying tonight'
Old Saybrook - As smoke billowed from a second-story window, Susan Alburtus put her head out and screamed to the officer below, "Help me. He is going to hurt me."
Her husband, Glenn, was hovering over her and pulled her back inside the inferno in their house, according to an arrest warrant that charges him with attempted murder.
Shortly after 5:15 a.m. on Feb. 22, Old Saybrook police went to the Alburtus home at 19 Beaver Dam Trail for a report of a domestic incident.
The officers didn't know that Glenn Alburtus had poured kerosene in the family room and had already started a fire, the warrant says.
Sgt. Jeff DePerry and Patrolman Larry Smith attempted to gain entry by kicking the front door in but were overwhelmed by thick, black smoke, the warrant says.
The officers then ran around the rear of the house and saw Susan sticking her head out of the window, gasping for air when she was pulled back in. The pair then reappeared in the window. DePerry told Glenn to go to another window.
As both Glenn and Susan gasped for air, the officers frantically searched for a ladder. DePerry asked Glenn if there was a ladder nearby, but he did not immediately reply. He would eventually tell police that there was a ladder by the deck, but cautioned them "to be careful as there might be an explosion over there," the warrant says.
As the officers extended the ladder to the window, Susan could no longer be seen -- the smoke had gotten so thick. Suddenly she jumped out the window, landing on her feet on a pile of wood and falling backwards to the ground.
Susan told police she was going to leave her husband and that he poured kerosene all over the house and set it on fire. She said he also held a sharp object against her throat, forcing her to stay in a bedroom.
She was taken by Life Star helicopter to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she remains hospitalized.
Patrolman Phil Ciccone, Smith and a neighbor placed the ladder where Glenn was and he climbed down to safety. While Glenn Alburtus was being taken to a local hospital he was charged with disorderly conduct, second-degree threatening, first-degree unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment.
On Wednesday, Old Saybrook police lodged more charges against Alburtus. In addition to attempted murder, he was charged with three counts of first-degree arson, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree assault, third-degree assault and interfering with an emergency call.
Three firefighters and Smith were also injured in the blaze.
Police interviewed Susan Alburtus on Feb. 25. She said she married Glenn in 2005 and bought the Beaver Dam Trail home in 2007. She told police Glenn was having financial troubles, owed a lot of money to various credit card companies and was going to lose the house. She told him in September that she would be filing for divorce after the holidays, the warrant said. In November, they started to sleep in separate bedrooms.
Susan said Glenn had never been violent with her, but was possessive, often telling her, "This is my house. You are mine. You are not going anywhere."
Susan said she was scheduled to move out of the house on the day of the fire and that Glenn knew it. She said the day before, as she packed, Glenn would just stare at her and was silent. She told police that she was "creeped out" by it, the warrant says.
On the day of the fire, she was awakened by a loud bang. When she opened the door, Glenn was walking up the stairs. She asked him what he had done.
He replied to her, "I told you, you weren't leaving. We are both dying tonight," the warrant says.
Susan said Glenn grabbed her by the neck and slammed her against the wall, holding a sharp object at her throat.
She told police she tried to reason with him, asking him to think of her children and grandchildren, but that Glenn seemed unfazed.
She told police he had her pinned against the wall and she could hear the house burning. She said she knew she was going to die unless she did something. She punched and kicked him and managed to get into a bedroom and ran into an attached bathroom. She grabbed her cell phone and called police as Glenn entered the room. She pleaded with her husband that she didn't want to die like this, but she said Glenn told her, "Too bad, baby, you're going!" He took the cell phone and threw it into the toilet.
While in the bathroom, Susan punched a hole in the window so she could breath and began to scream for help. She said Glenn pulled her back in.
Susan said she jumped out of the window because she could feel the heat on her back and the "flames were right behind her."
Police said Susan's medical records indicated that she suffered from respiratory failure and would have residual complications as a result. She also suffered from a fractured lumbar spine, broken ribs and a broken ankle and foot.
Police interviewed Glenn Alburtus on Feb. 23.He said he woke up at 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 22 and saw that Susan had packed her belongings.
"He saw the things packed and 'just snapped,'" he told police.
Alburtus said he took kerosene and poured it in the family room and lit it. He said his wife woke up, but he threw her back into the bedroom and told her, "We're going to live or die tonight," the warrant said.
Police had another opportunity to talk to Glenn at the police station on Feb. 24. He told police his whole world and life were going up in flames so he started the fire.
"I now want to say that my original intent was non-survival for either of us. That means me and my wife, Susan," he told police.
He later said he was glad that his wife survived.
Alburtus is being held on a total of $1.5 million bond and is scheduled to appear in Middletown Superior Court on April 23.
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