McDowell county man arrested on murder, arson charges in firefighter’s death

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)   State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators have charged a McDowell County man after he allegedly set a fire killing a volunteer firefighter.

Robert Beckner, 36, of Iaeger was charged Thursday, June 25, 2020, with three counts of first-degree arson and one count of first-degree murder in connection with the June 20, 2020 fire that began at his residence.

Firefighters were initially dispatched in the evening to Beckner’s residence at 908 West Virginia Ave., according to marshals.

After extinguishing the fire, firefighters were called back early the following morning when it rekindled. 

During the morning response, Russell Roberson, 42, of the Iaeger Volunteer Fire Department suffered a fatal medical emergency, according to marshals.

The rekindled fire also spread to two nearby dwellings, prompting the additional arson charges against Beckner.

Beckner allegedly admitted to setting the fire, marshals said. He was arrested Thursday and brought to McDowell County Magistrate Court for his initial appearance. 

Beckner is being taken to the Southwestern Regional Jail.

A funeral for Roberson will take place Friday. 

Gov. Jim Justice, R-WV, who addressed Roberson’s death earlier this week.

Justice said every single one of our firefighters and first responders are all of our heroes. 

“We know that this man is an absolute hero. We ask so much that you pause and pray for this wonderful man, a hero that we lost.”

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