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Wilmington man charged with arson of Lighthouse Restaurant

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The Lighthouse Restaurant was set on fire on April 23, 2020; destroying the restaurant and namesake lighthouse. | PHOTO COURTESY OF LHDC

DEWEY BEACH  – The Office of the State Fire Marshal announced criminal charges against Richard B. Lodeski, 44, of Wilmington, Delaware as being identified as the person responsible for the fire that destroyed the Lighthouse Restaurant on April 23, 2020.

“We are relieved that this person has been brought to justice for this senseless act. We would like to thank the Delaware Fire Marshal’s and Attorney General’s offices for continuing to pursue every lead during a 14-month long investigation. We would also like to thank The Delaware State Police, Dewey Beach Police Department, the Delaware Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, and the State of Maryland for their on-going support during the investigation. The community support during this painful time has been overwhelming,” stated Thomas J. Hanna, President of Harvey Hanna & Associates, the company that is overseeing the redevelopment in a statement regarding the incident. “Deputy Dale Magee of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the private team at O’Rourke Investigative both deserve a lot of credit for immediately hitting the street within hours of the arson having occurred,” Hanna went on to state.

“This act of arson at the Lighthouse Restaurant wasn’t just a betrayal of Harvey Hanna & Associates, Inc. and the employees of our Lighthouse Cove Resort. This act of arson was a despicable betrayal of the entire Dewey Beach and greater Sussex County communities. Today, our community is safer because of this arrest,” stated E. Thomas Harvey, III, President of Lighthouse Cove Development Company.

In recognition of the 14 months of hard work throughout the entirety of the investigation on behalf of various Law Enforcement agencies, Harvey, Hanna & Associates and the Lighthouse Cove Development company will donate $15,000 to Camp Barnes in Frankford, Delaware, specifically to the Annual Delaware Burn Camp in lieu of the reward previously announced. Camp Barnes, launched by the Delaware State Police in 1948, offers free camp for youth of Delaware, which allows campers to develop initiative and leadership skills necessary to accomplish tasks. The Delaware Burn Camp was established to provide a safe and natural environment for the promotion of physical and emotional healing to young Delaware children who have been previously injured by fire.

“As many are aware, we immediately posted what we felt was a generous reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist in this act. Representatives from Law Enforcement were able to investigate and arrest the alleged perpetrator without the necessity of the Reward. Therefore, our team felt compelled to contribute much of the allocated reward money to Camp Barnes, a powerful community effort established by the Delaware State Police many decades ago, which serves underprivileged children in Delaware and those kids that have been disabled or harmed by fire,” stated Hanna.

The Lighthouse Restaurant was being remodeled at the time of the fire, with the expectation that it would be reopened in the Summer of 2020. The arson occurred weeks before the restaurant was scheduled to reopen, thereby displacing almost 40 workers that had been hired or had been scheduled to be hired. The Lighthouse Restaurant has since been under construction for a second time in two years and is now scheduled to reopen in mid-July.

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