Details uncovered in court documents reveal a glimpse into the life of a Springfield family afflicted by tragedy and may ultimately provide a motive for a destructive 2010 house fire and the damning allegations that surfaced nearly a year later.
Kenneth W. Thompson, 45, of 202 Commercial Ave., who faces 36 counts of incest, is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Feb. 20 in Washington Circuit Court.
The alleged incidents occurred between spring 2010 and March 2011 — about the same time Thompson’s young son admitted to igniting a near-fatal fire, which partly burned the family’s home.
Thompson, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair, was pulled from the smoldering house by a local real estate agent.
Shortly after the fire, Thompson told The Sun he’d been lying down when he realized there was smoke, and then fire in the house.
“I just started praying and the Lord answered by bringing somebody in to help me out,” Thompson told The Sun in a 2010 interview.
Jim Logsdon of the Springfield Fire Department said Thompson’s son later admitted he had been playing with matches.
“He caught a bed on fire,” Logsdon said in a follow-up interview with The Sun just last week.
The fire was ruled accidental.
Logsdon said he was largely unaware of incest charges filed later against Thompson that correspond with the timing of the fire.
Community members helped the Thompson’s rebuild their house.
Court records show Thompson and his late wife, Michelle, were being investigated by the Cabinet for Family Health and Services shortly before incest charges were filed against the man.
But Mrs. Thompson, 40, died at her home in March 2011 just months before her husband was officially charged with raping a juvenile relative.
A coroner’s report says the woman died of natural causes.
An autopsy was conducted, according to reports from the coroner, primarily to see if the mother carried any genetic traits that might have been inherited by the children.
No foul play was ruled, but at least one family member told The Springfield Sun they still have suspicions surrounding her death.
The family member wouldn’t elaborate and did not want to be identified by the media.
Commonwealth Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit Tim Cocanougher said those circumstances wouldn’t be acknowledged in upcoming court proceedings.
“That obviously would be a separate case,” he said. “And if there’s any evidence to that, they should take it to law enforcement.”
Thompson was ruled indigent by the courts and is represented by a public defender. His legal team could likely produce a psychologist who may testify to his mental competence.
Court records show his attorney, Ashley Shouse, requested services from Dr. Eric Drogin, a Louisville psychologist who specializes in clinical and forensic cases. Dr. Drogin charges as much as $275 per hour for patient evaluations, consultations, research and legal services, court records show.
“The defense has the right to call whatever expert witness they believe is relative to their case,” Cocanougher said.
Thompson’s defense team could not be reached for comment.
The trial was rescheduled from earlier this month to allow time for a judge to review new evidence in the case.