HELENA – A 36-year-old Helena man is accused of burning down a restaurant on Helena’s west side.
Brad Richardson has been charged with one count of arson and one count of conspiracy from an October 2018 fire at the Red Roof Cafe building on the 1900 block of Euclid Avenue.
Firefighters said when they arrived on scene, they found evidence the fire had been intentionally lit, including combustible material stacked around an open burner on a hot water heater, a burned mattress and a mattress blocking the rear entrance.
Court records state investigators learned of the suspect the following month when Richardson went to a relative of the building’s owner and demanded money.
Richardson lived in a trailer to the north of the restaurant and, according to the owner, watched the property following the eviction of the previous tenants.
Court documents state prosecutors said Richardson had met with the restaurant’s owner previously and offered to burn the restaurant down for a portion of the insurance money. The owner said she declined the offer.
Two witnesses told investigators Richardson admitted to setting the fire, and that he had details only someone who committed the act would have known.
Richardson claimed he conspired with the building’s owner to burn it down, according to court documents.
The judge set his bond at $50,000.