Inside the Mexia library arson case

Inside the Mexia library arson case
mexia arson investigation
Posted at 11:26 PM, Oct 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 00:26:52-04

MEXIA, TX  — One of the most sensational arson cases in Central Texas, results in an arrest.

The September 28th fire at Mexia's Gibbs Memorial Library had people from San Saba to Corsicana wondering who would torch a benign public building.

Almost a month later, we got our answer, as police arrested 26 year old Martin Ogeda, and charged him with arson.

Do investigators have a strong case?

Let's walk you through the investigation into a crime that still has tempers smoldering.

"It was on fire and he broke down and it's just devastating we didn't know at the time that somebody set it on fire," said Kristin Green, who along with other neighbors, watched in tears as half of the Gibbs Memorial Library burned, while firefighters scrambled to save, the other half.

The question that kept hanging in the air... why?

"A lot of people have been patient and want answers.." said Mexia Police Chief Brian Bell.

Wednesday, October 23rd, after a grand jury indicted a suspect, investigators drew back the curtain over the investigation to give us a glimpse of how they say, they caught their man.

"I was met by a Mexia P.D. officer, and they had noticed what appeared to be a forced entry to the back door," explained Mexia Fire Marshal Damian Hullum, who normally deals with house fires, not mysteries.

But the more he looked, he says, the more the picture of the crime came into focus.

"It wasn't hard to see once we got inside," he said.

A succession of clues, led him to the undeniable conclusion... of arson.

Next he had to figure out.... who.

"Back door had been broken but not shattered, and a window just adjacent to that, had been broken completely.... with a brick laying inside of the building," Hullum recalled.

A report to Mexia leaders, noted "forensic evidence" which pointed to just one person.

"Martin Ogeda," Hullum said.

A 25 News investigation found, the 26-year-old had a history of brushes with the law, involving burglary and yes, even arson.

Evidence presented to a grand jury resulted in an indictment and to Ogeda's arrest, and in Mexia, relief.

"When you got somebody running around burning down houses, you never know if it's gonna be yours," said Jennifer Holt, a former Mexia neighbor of Ogeda's and a co-worker a the living center.

So now, Mexia knew the who... but could only guess at the why.

"It's important that the community can start to heal and find some closure," said Chief Bell.

But they'll have to wait for the case to come to court to get them.

"IF" the case gets before a judge.

Why "If" the case gets to a judge? Because of the two cases we could document, both got dismissed, when experts found Ogeda "incompentent" to stand trial.

But, an evaluation from experts at the state living center just last year, found Ogeda "marginally competent"... giving a glimmer of hope to those wanting to see this case get its day in court.

Families affected deeply by the fire fear, they may never understand.

"I don't know how anybody could do anything like that," said a tearful Green.