Revenge and Mistakes Made

Sometimes murder can just be a ruthless attack for reasons that seemed justifiable at the time, but later on just plain stupid, fueled by emotions, booze and drugs.

On July 25, 1999, Donald ‘Cookie” McComb, 73, died as a result of a fire at his small apartment on south 4th street next door the 4th Street Cafe. He and several others lived in the second floor apartments. After extinguishing the fire and looking through the rubble it was determined that arson was the cause. Police started looking for a trail of evidence and the trail led them to a  20 year old man named Michael Inman.

The cause of the fire and the reasons for committing arson  and the resulting death of Mr. McComb were soon found out through interviews and investigation. Police first looked at the other residents at the other apartments that were renting there. They did not have to go far.

  In one of the apartments lived a man named Jay Haas, He was friends with Michael Inman and on the night of the 24th, Inman, along with his girlfriend Starla Smith, stopped to visit Haas at his apartment. Inside Haas’s apartment was another woman, Theresa Russel, who was Hass’s girlfriend. They proceeded to start drinking beer and after awhile Haas and Russell had sex several times with Inman and Smith present. Russell then had sex with Inman while Smith and Hass were kissing and fondling. Later it was told that Inman did not mind that his girlfriend and Haas were having sexual activity and that there was mutual consent between all members. Smith testified later on that she and Haas had sex with Inman present on numerous occasions.

Later in the evening, Inman left Haas’s apartment several times to visit others in the neighborhood and to buy more beer (beside the fact he was under age). People who did see Inman that night reported he was extremely drunk and even questioned the fact that he would be able to make it back to Haas’s place. Inman also was reported to say to others that he was displeased with Haas ‘messing’ around with his girlfriend Starla Smith. Inman apparently didn’t consider the fact that he had just had sex with Hass’s girlfriend Theresa Russell. So now we have Inman walking around drunk and threatening to get even with Haas for his actions with Inman’s girlfriend.

Inman returned to Haas’s apartment, picked up his girlfriend  Smith, and then escorted her to the local bar, Harrington’s, and told her to sit out front while he took care of some business. After about 15 minutes he returned and Inman and Smith headed to another friend’s house, Dave Brilon, where Inman told Brilon that he ‘Had taken care of business’. Brilon asked what that meant and Inman said, ‘You know what I mean, Jay’, meaning Haas. He also stated ‘You think I’m bullshitting, you’ll see’.

 The fire was reported to the fire station several minutes after Inman and Smith left the front of the bar and headed to Brilon’s apartment. When firefighters arrived they were looking at a wall of flame that was advancing very fast on the apartments. Despite efforts by the firefighters, Donald McComb was unable to escape the fire and died. Investigators at the scene determined it was arson and that some kind of accelerant had been used to start the fire. Apparently the accelerant had been spread along the porch in front of the doors to the apartment, and these doors offered the only exit from the apartments.

Inman was arrested and charged with first degree murder, tried and convicted and now spends his days in prison with a sentence of life.

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