Pyro takes out angst in kitchen

Amy Olson

Charges brought against a University student for allegedly attempting to set a small fire on the kitchen floor at his parents’ house Nov. 29 were dropped Friday in Scott County District Court.
Ben Dover, a senior aerospace engineering student who commutes from Louisville Township, claimed he started the fire late Sunday night in revenge for not being able to watch his favorite television show.
Dover said he watches “That ’70s Show” and “The Simpsons” religiously and planned to turn the television on after ending a long-distance telephone conversation Sunday evening with his friend Doy Lee Johnson, a 1989 University graduate who now lives in New Jersey.
When he walked out into the living room, he said his parents were using the television to watch taped episodes of “Jerry Springer.”
According to a police report, Dover asked his parents if he could turn the channel. When they said no and suggested he go get the family’s other television set from the garage, Dover allegedly stomped out of the room and slammed the door.
Dover said he was angry and he went to watch television in the garage past midnight. While sitting in the garage, Dover said he decided to “have some fun” with his pocket laser and a magnifying glass.
While trying to suction gasoline out of his car to play with, Dover said he accidentally ingested some of the gas. Grabbing a gallon of milk from the garage refrigerator and some Pepto Bismol, Dover said he alleviated the burning sensation in his mouth, throat and stomach.
Around 1 a.m., Dover said he gave up on lighting a fire and went inside.
But once he got inside, he said his anger flared again as the burning sensation returned in his stomach. Grabbing some paper towels, Dover said he took out his magnifying glass and pocket laser to see if he could start the paper on fire.
After trying for five minutes, Dover said he decided to get some old lighter fluid from the garage to speed up his results. Dover added the lighter fluid, which he said failed to even start smoking. Disgusted, he threw down his lit cigarette on top of the pile and walked away to his room without stomping out the ashes.
Dover said he didn’t see any smoke when he returned to the kitchen a few moments later to get a glass of water. But according to the fire investigator’s report, the fire flared after Dover’s cigarette made contact with a dry piece of paper towel, catching it and a nearby rug on fire.
But the Dover family was not awakened by smoke and flames or a smoke detector because Dover’s father, John, forgot to install batteries.
The fire investigator’s report said Dover’s dog, Feynmann, who has a bladder problem, must have put out the fire when he accidentally urinated on the floor. Dover told investigators Feynmann became incontinent after developing repeated infections.
“Ben told us he was trying to kill ants on the kitchen floor, but we’re not buying that,” said Jack Knaupf, fire investigator for the township.
“I still can’t believe Ben could be an arsonist,” Johnson said. “I mean, we used to light leaves on fire outside as kids, but I never thought he’d use the pocket laser I gave him to start fires.”
Although the arson charges were dropped, Dover’s lawyer, Kelly Greene, said her client will pay a $500 fine for pleading guilty to destroying property. His parents could not be reached for comment.
Johnson said Dover requested a TV/VCR combination for Christmas.