Police: Woman charged in Silver Street arson was angry over drug deal gone wrong

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MANCHESTER, NH – The woman caught on video running from the scene of a fire while carrying a can of gasoline tried to burn down the occupied Silver Street apartment building because one of the residents had duped her in a drug deal, according to court records. 

Dezereih Regan-Gionet, 23, who lists her address as the New Horizons Soup Kitchen, was arraigned last Friday in Hillsborough County Superior Court – North on a class-A felony charge of arson, accusing her of setting the Jan. 30 fire at 279 Silver St.  Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.

She is also charged with attempted escape for leaving a hospital room on March 1 at the Elliot Hospital where she was being detained and hiding under a hospital bed.

She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Manchester Police Detective Scott Ardita, in his affidavit on file in court, said an informant told him Regan-Gionet was deceived during a drug transaction with a resident of the apartment building and, angry by the outcome, she decided to burn the drug dealer’s house down. After her photo appeared on social media, she dyed her hair to prevent being identified, the informant told him.

Photo of the woman sought by police in connection with the Jan. 30 arson on Silver Street. Police later arrested Dezereih Regan-Gionetm and charged her with arson. MPD

Ardita wrote that one of the residents of the apartment building has multiple federal drug convictions as well as state and local convictions for possession and sales of narcotics.

A witness provided police with video surveillance from her vehicle’s “dash cam” as well as still photographs. Investigators said It shows Regan-Gionet walking west on Silver Street wearing a black jacket with a fur-lined hood, black leggings with white print on the legs, white gloves and boots.  She is carrying a red gas can and white rags.

The witness told police she saw the woman pour liquid onto the front porch of 279 Silver St. and then light it on fire.  The woman then ran back up Silver Street, toward Beech Street, and still carrying the gas can, got into the rear driver’s side passenger of a small silver SUV. The witness took a photo of the license plate and police determined the silver Kia belongs to Adriel Stillwell, 47, of 188 Auburn St.  

He denied driving anyone around that morning but admitted to being in the car all morning and that no one else had the car, according to Ardita.  The detective told Stillwell the car was used in the commission of a crime and it was impounded. 

Later, after obtaining a search warrant, police found a dark fur-lined hooded jacket with trace evidence consistent with gasoline on the jacket, a set of white gloves and carpet containing trace evidence also consistent with gasoline.

Police also viewed video from businesses and bars in the area.  Those videos captured Regan-Gionet on that morning getting out of the rear driver’s side passenger seat of the SUV at Heaven’s Gas on Mammoth Road, going into the station with the gas can to pay, coming back out to fill it and heading back inside the station to get her change.  Police identified her from the video that shows her paying for the gas.

The videos also showed the car driving to the area of the fire and parking at Silver and Beech streets.  Regan-Gionet gets out and heads towards the building.  Two other passengers, both male, also get out and head south, then west and out of sight. 

Superior Court Judge David A. Anderson ordered Regan-Gionet’s “preventive detention” – held without bail –  saying he found there was clear and convincing evidence that her release will endanger her or the public.   His reasons included that Regan-Gionet was captured on video surveillance pouring an accelerant on the porch of an occupied dwelling and setting it on fire;  her being unhappy with having been deceived by the occupants during a prior drug transaction, and her serious drug problem and health issues.

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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.