A Belmont County man has confessed to burning down a historic barn.
Donald Ewing, 27, confessed to burning down David Wagner’s family’s barn, that was built in 1861.
Wagner says he and his wife hired Ewing initially to help on their farm, believing what he told them.
“He presented himself as a disabled American veteran and a Marine who had fought in Afghanistan and was wounded,” said Wagner. “He also told my wife that his wife, who bore his two children, died in childbirth.”
But they said they soon realized he was a problem employee, drinking, wrecking the farm truck, not feeding the animals properly.
They also discovered he was neither a veteran nor a widower.
They fired him.
Then their barn was torched and it burned to the ground, killing their family dog and their bull, and disfiguring two of their cows with burn scars.
“Donald Ewing crept into the barn that night and lit it on fire, knowing that there was a bull underneath the barn,” Wagner noted. “He took our family pet, the German Shepherd we loved, Rommel, and he put it in a cage in the barn, and he lit the barn on fire. I had to put the bull down because it was so severely burned.”
Judge John Vavra told Ewing he could get 18 months in prison.
The Wagners say they may lose their long-time family farm.
“And quite frankly, we’re considering getting out of the cattle industry because we just might not be able to get a barn built quickly enough for winter,” said Wagner.
The judge set Ewing’s sentencing for November 7.