Arson charges dropped against St. Pius X Catholic School teacher Gwen Kirch in deadly fire

Husband killed; son also charges

INDIANAPOLIS - Arson charges have been dropped against an Indianapolis teacher previously accused of setting a 2007 fire that killed her husband.

Gwen Kirch, 64, a music teacher at St. Pius X Catholic School, and her son, Thomas Kirch, 27, were each charged in 2011 with three counts of arson resulting in serious injury or death and one count of conspiracy to commit arson.

David Kirch, Gwen's husband and Thomas' father, died in a 2007 fire in the couple's home in the 7000 block of Eastwick Lane.

Thomas Kirch, who had been serving with the military overseas, returned to face the charges earlier this year. He is set to stand trial starting Monday.

Court documents indicate that investigators found gasoline containers from the garage and that accelerant was poured on the stairs and in several rooms. Evidence was also gathered from a computer that was damaged in the fire.

A representative with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office and Gwen Kirch's attorney both declined to comment about the charges being dropped.

Well-known defense attorney Jack Crawford, who is not involved in the case, speculated about the cause.

"Prosecutors have all kinds of tools in an effort to obtain a conviction. If they feel by dismissing against her it would be helpful in the case against the son, and eventually against the wife, they are free to do that," he said. "They have all kinds of discretion. They can dismiss and refile. The statute of limitation is usually 20 years on these kind of crimes."

Gwen Kirch has been on paid administrative leave from her job at St. Pius. Thomas Kirch has been stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., while awaiting trial.

A new house has been constructed on the site, but the family no longer lives there. Their former neighbors want closure in the case.

"(It's) very important, a person died. If this is a murder or arson that killed him, justice should be served," said James Smith.

"I look forward to this being done so the neighborhood can feel some sense of closure in the neighborhood, because this is a very great neighborhood with great neighbors," said Tami Koch.

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