City of Port Jervis Police Chief William Worden and Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler announced that on January 25, 2021, Port Jervis police detectives charged Dawn Hulse, age 50, of Port Jervis, with several crimes, including six counts of Attempted Murder in the 1st Degree (Class A Felonies) and Arson in the 1st Degree (Class A Felony.) Hulse is accused of intentionally setting multiple fires inside an apartment house with the intent of causing death to the occupants of the dwelling.
On January 25, 2022, at approximately 12:20 a.m., the Port Jervis City Police and Fire Departments responded to a fire alarm activation at a two-family home located at 156 Jersey Avenue in the City of Port Jervis. Police arrived on scene and observed heavy smoke and fire emanating from the downstairs apartment while occupants consisting of three adults and three children, (infant, age five, age 15), from the second-floor apartment were observed evacuating the residence.
Officers were informed that a female occupant was observed inside the first-floor apartment, causing officers to attempt to make entry inside the apartment for a rescue. Officers forced entry into the apartment and observed that the exterior doors had been intentionally barricaded on the interior side to prevent entry. Officers observed several separate fires burning inside the apartment.
Armed with fire extinguishers, officers attempted to extinguish the fire which was burning in several rooms while searching for the female occupant. Due to the fire conditions and heavy smoke, officers were forced to retreat from the residence and alerted arriving Port Jervis Fire Department personnel that a female occupant was trapped inside the apartment.
Port Jervis firefighters made entry and successfully extinguished the fire and began to ventilate the smoke. Firefighters then located the female occupant in the rear bathroom of the apartment with the door barricaded. A team of police officers and firefighters forced entry into the bathroom and located a 50-year-old female, identified as Dawn Hulse, who resides in the apartment, unresponsive, lying face down in the bathtub.
Officers and firefighters evacuated the victim from the residence to perform life saving measures and discovered the victim had a pulse and was breathing on her own. The victim was transported by Port Jervis EMS to Bon Scours Community Hospital for treatment.
An investigation into the incident was conducted by the Port Jervis Police Department, Orange County Fire Investigation Unit, Port Jervis Fire Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s office .As a result of the investigation, the cause of the fire was determined to be intentionally set and it was learned that the electronic circuit breaker powering the smoke detectors for the apartment building was disconnected prior to the fire being set.
The defendant was arraigned in Orange County Centralized Arraignment Court- Middletown City Court Part and remanded to Orange County Jail without bail pending further court appearances.
On November 12, 2021, Hulse was charged in the Village of Goshen Justice Court with Attempted Arson in the Third Degree. The felony complaint filed in that case alleges that, on October 16, 2021, Hulse attempted to set fire to a building located on Railroad Avenue in the Village of Goshen by starting a fire in the basement of that building.
Attempted Arson in the Third Degree is not a crime on which bail can be set pursuant to the recently enacted “bail reform” statutes, and Hulse was released with no bail. New York State’s Criminal Procedure Law allows offenses involving the same or similar statutory schemes to be joined in a single indictment. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office stated that they will be presenting both sets of charges against Hulse to the same grand jury.
Port Jervis City Police Chief William Worden commended the rapid response of Port Jervis Police and Fire Department personnel who risked their lives to extinguish the fire and ensure the occupants were safely evacuated from the residence.
We are especially thankful the occupants of the second-floor dwelling were alerted to the fire because of their battery back-up smoke detectors which saved their lives,” said Worden.
District Attorney David M. Hoovler said, “Arson places not only its intended victims at risk, but also those who occupy nearby residences, as well as the brave first responders who regularly risk their lives to protect our lives and property.”
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jessica Dovico and Chief Trial Assistant District Attorney Richard Moran. A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.