Reward raised for Parma City Hall arson; fire at former mayor’s home suspicious

Reward in Parma, MO arson case

PARMA, MO (KFVS) - A reward has been raised for information on the Parma City Hall arson.

According to Chief Deputy Chris Hensley with New Madrid County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Parma is now offering a $15,000 reward for the information that leads to the conviction of the person responsible for the Parma City Hall arson.

The New Madrid County Commissioners and New Madrid County Mayors Association is offering a $1,000 reward.

This is in addition to the Missouri State Fire Marshals office reward, which, according to Deputy Chief Hensley, is up to $5,000 for any information leading to a conviction.

Call the New Madrid County Sheriff’s Office at 573-748-6633 if you have any information on the fires.

Parma Mayor Rufus Williamson said an insurance inspector was at City Hall on Friday to determine the damage.

New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens confirmed a fire that broke out at City Hall was arson. According to officials, a fire at the former mayor’s home is considered suspicious. The fires are still under investigation. Officials continue to search for who or what caused the fires.

The home of the former mayor burned overnight on April 16, according to Sheriff Stevens.

Fire fighters responded to the fire at the former mayor’s home around midnight on D Highway in Parma.

Stevens said as crews left her home, they saw smoke and realized city hall and the police department were burning as well.

Neighbors called 911 and could only watch as the flames engulfed the home.

"When I first came out it was just on the right-side porch and all I saw was smoke and about an orange-ish type flame. And so we basically watched the fire grow from small to big. I saw her last night, and she was heartbroken, she was a wreck,” said Maria Young, a neighbor.

The City hall and the police department were damaged in the fire and it burned city records.

“I guess you could call this a catastrophe that we don’t have anything before this," said Parma Mayor Rufus Williamson.

With the records and computers destroyed, Mayor Williamson said it’s a problem when city employees need to be paid on April 18.

“We don’t have anything to tell us what we paid them, what we owe them, their time, their hours, we don’t have any of that," said Williamson.

It’s his goal to pay them by April 19.

“I don’t know why we can’t get it done. I really believe in getting things done. Especially paying people," he said.

Another question, where will people pay their water bill? The mayor plans to open an office in the Parma Community Building by Monday, April 22.

“We’re gonna start there, and then we gonna we’ll work from there. They’ll be able to come and pay their bill," said Williamson.

Still searching for answers about the Parma fires edit: the fires happened early WEDNESDAY morning.

Posted by Isabelle Hanson KFVS on Friday, April 19, 2019

The New Madrid County Sheriff’s Department said they increased the police presence in town since the fires.

The Fire Marshall, Missouri State Highway Patrol and New Madrid County Sheriff’s Department are investigating.

Sheriff Stevens said the former mayor recently swore in Williamson on Tuesday, April 16 after losing the position in the most recent election.

Parma Mayor Rufus Williamson said on Friday, April 19 he will be letting go five employees because he “wants to start fresh.”

As a city, they agreed to hire an attorney to help them work through the audit.

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