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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Arson charge placed in car fire that caused Perham Street building evacuation in August

NASHUA – A Nashua man is in jail and charged with torching a parked car this summer due to a dispute that allegedly began over illegal drugs, sparking a fire that damaged a city apartment building and forced the evacuation of several families.

Alexander Vegas, 23, of 9 Robinson Court in Nashua, is being held on $35,000 cash or surety bail after his arraignment at Nashua district court Monday. ...

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NASHUA – A Nashua man is in jail and charged with torching a parked car this summer due to a dispute that allegedly began over illegal drugs, sparking a fire that damaged a city apartment building and forced the evacuation of several families.

Alexander Vegas, 23, of 9 Robinson Court in Nashua, is being held on $35,000 cash or surety bail after his arraignment at Nashua district court Monday.

Vegas is charged with felony arson for allegedly setting fire to a black 1994 Subaru on Aug. 17. The flames engulfed the vehicle, which was parked in the driveway of 24-26 Perham St., an apartment building just north of Lock Street in east Nashua.

It melted the siding on the building, leading four adults and three children to be rescued from the building by firefighters. None was injured.

According to a court affidavit by Nashua police Detective James Stone, Vegas was suspected because of threats left on the telephone of the car’s owner, Melissa Anderson, 38, who said a person known as “Ace” had allegedly been involved in an altercation with Robert Sperow Jr., the 20-year-old son of her boyfriend, Robert Sperow Sr.

Stone’s affidavit says that two messages were left on Sperow Sr.’s phone after the fire. The first was left Aug. 19, two days after the fire, saying that Sperow “ripped off the wrong ... people”, while the second, on Sept. 10, included an “unidentified male caller sings a song mocking Sperow. The subject mentions the Subaru burning and references the fact that Sperow now had to walk.”

Stone writes in the affidavit that he identified Alexander Vegas, 23, last known address of 9 Robinson Court, as being called “Ace” and having had contact with the police.

Stone wrote that he gave an “eight-person photo array containing a picture of (Vegas)” to Sperow, who identified Vegas.

According to the affidavit, it took Stone several months to hunt down Vegas. Success occurred after a search warrant was served on the Cingular Wireless number left on Sperow Sr.’s answering machine, which led to a Webster, Mass., address, where police talked to Eugenio Vegas Echevarria, identified as Alexander Vegas’ father.

Eugenio Vegas Echevarria told police that he and his son and another man known as “Lucky” had gone to Nashua “to fight Bob and his son,” according to court documents.

In a later statement, he alleged that Alexander Vegas “had been involved in an illegal drug transaction with a male that he knew as Bob in Nashua. ... During the transaction, Alexander was robbed by Bob and his son, causing him to receive several staples to the back of his head,” according to court documents.

According to the affidavit, on Aug. 17 the trio arrived in Nashua, Eugenio Vegas Echevarria did not accompany his son after they parked in a church parking lot on Chandler Street, “because he did not want to get into trouble.”

He said that when his son and the man named “Lucky” returned to the car and that Alexander Vegas “was commenting about how he threw a match in the back seat of Bob’s vehicle ... (and) told him that there must have been some gasoline in the back seat, causing the vehicle to burn.”

Alexander Vegas is scheduled for a probable cause hearing April 29, according to court documents.

After the fire, Jessica Lemere, who was in an upstairs apartment at the back of the building, said the apartment’s single entryway was blocked by the flames, heat and smoke.

The car that burned was parked directly below a small porch outside the apartment door.

“We had to go out the kitchen window,” she said.

The building did not suffer structural damage from the fire.