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Co-owner of Columbia restaurant facing arson charge in southeast Missouri

Columbia, Mo. (KMIZ)

Casa Maria's Cantina's co-owner is facing an arson charge for her alleged role in starting a fire at a restaurant this summer in a Bootheel town.

Court documents state that Crystal Umfress contacted a witness asking her to burn a local business in Kennett, Missouri, in July. A fire later broke out at Lupita's Mexican Restaurant.

Umfress allegedly hired Kerry Raymond to set the fire. A witness told Kennett police that she was contacted by Umfress to burn the business when Raymond was with her, according to a probable cause statement.

The witness told officers that she and Umfress met in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where Umfress gave her $1,000 upfront to burn the building, the statement says. Court documents say the witness told officers that it was because Umfress was "upset at the owner of the business because she ran off with her husband, the business owner ..."

The probable cause statement says the witness left Cape Girardeau, met with Raymond and tried unsuccessfully to burn the restaurant using an explosive made from a remote control dog shock collar and gasoline.

The witness said she and Raymond then drove to Kennett where she parked the car while he set the fire, the statement says. Raymond had to go back a second time to make sure the fire started, the witness allegedly told police.

Raymond allegedly used a small gas container and alcohol to start the fire, and video surveillance showed "what appeared to be a small gas container in the suspect's hand when he entered the business," according to court documents.

The witness provided police with text messages dating back to July 9 that show that Umfress had asked about whether something had been "taken care of," according to the statement.

Court documents state that the witness collected $1,000 in cash from Umfress, and $485.05 from her through Cash App.

Raymond is being held in the Dunklin County Jail on a $65,000 cash-only bond. At last check, Umfress is not an inmate, but a warrant for her arrest has a $75,000 cash-only bond attached to it.

Kennett is a city of about 10,000 people in the southeastern corner of the state.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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