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Centerville family dealing with aftermath of house being burned down by intruder

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 15:56:37-04

CENTERVILLE, Utah — A Utah family is still gripping with a tragedy that occurred last week.

The Newman family watched their home in Centerville burn to the ground, and now they are trying to make sense of why a stranger broke in and caused the destruction.

“The hardest thing for me is that when I built this house 35 years ago, I built it for my kids," said an emotional Clarence Newman. "And one day, it’ll be back for them.”

On Thursday, the suspect, later identified as 37-year-old Ammon Jacob Woodhead, broke into Clarence's home and burned it down while he, his wife and his father-in-law were still inside.

Centerville Suspect Arrest
First responders treat Ammon Jacob Woodhead following his arrest after breaking into a Centerville home and lighting it on fire

Woodhead committed a home burglary and two vehicle burglaries, all in Centerville, before breaking into the Newman's home and setting it on fire.

Clarence said he was watching television when the suspect came in with a gas can, started spraying gas around and even punched two of the people there.

“I told him to 'Get out of my house — what are you doing here?'” he recalled. “He says, 'All I want is your money or I’ll burn your house down.' Well, we don’t have no money at the house, so he burned the house down.”

35 years ago, Clarence built his family home and is proud of the brickwork that stayed intact even with the blaze. And says it’s a home filled with memories of his kids growing up.

“Underneath the deck there, there was just a sand trap and I put cement, had the kids' finger hand prints put in there,” he said.

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Clarence’s son, Jack, said his dad called his work Thursday afternoon with the news of the invasion and fire.

“He just says, 'J, the house is gone. Someone broke in and lit it on fire,'" Jack said.

Clarence’s daughter, Kristina Moss, said the experience has been painful to deal with for their family because of the trauma that the incident caused, calling it “heartbreaking.”

“I think a fire alone is, like, damaging enough, but then you add the events that led up to it, and to see not only just an elderly person, but your own father, and your stepmother and step-grandfather... getting beaten and yelled at and told them they were going to get their house burned down," she said.

Kimberlee Campbell, Clarence’s other daughter, said she knows their house will come back.

“If you know Clarence Newman, you know that he is a stubborn man, so he will rebuild," she said. "Hopefully not himself — he needs to hire some people this time.”

The family has a GoFundMe set up for donations to help the family get back on their feet

But for now, they say it’s just one day at a time.

“We’re just trying to live with it,” Clarence said.

Woodhead was booked into the Salt Lake County jail after treatment in the hospital, and faces multiple felony charges, including attempted murder, arson, burglary, and possession of a controlled substance.