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Woman Admits Setting Manchester Home on Fire that Resulted in Death of Resident

Manchester Township

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced Dianna L. Wills, 66, of Whiting, pled guilty August 14th to second degree aggravated arson and second-degree manslaughter before Judge Rochelle Gizinski. Each crime holds a statutory maximum of 10 years in New Jersey State Prison.

Both Aggravated Arson and Manslaughter are No Early Release offenses requiring Wills to serve 85% of the sentence imposed before she will be eligible for parole. After that, she must complete a three-year term of parole supervision.

The plea stems from an investigation into the April 7th structure fire at 3 Kingfisher Way, in Manchester, which would ultimately lead to the arrest of Wills on June 21st.

The initial investigation into the fire began at approximately 9:35 p.m. when a structure fire was reported at 3 Kingfisher Way, Manchester Township.

The Manchester Fire and Police Departments responded to the location where they encountered a fully involved structure with flames protruding from the roof.

The homeowner was able to exit the structure and summon assistance safely. Unfortunately, the owner’s five dogs were trapped inside the residence and perished in the fire. The fire ultimately consumed the majority of the structure, resulting in the Manchester Township Building Inspector deeming the dwelling uninhabitable.

The residence next to the structure fire, 160 Mockingbird Way, sustained heat damage and the homeowner, Steve Kundin, had to be transported from the fire scene to Community Medical Center for smoke inhalation.

The investigation into the origin, cause, and circumstances surrounding the fire determined that the fire originated near the North side of the residence entrance stairs. Reasons for the fire was incendiary – an open flame was introduced to available combustibles. Further investigation revealed Dianna Wills was at the front door of 3 Kingfisher Way before the homeowner discovered the fire and is being accused of initiating the blaze.

Steve Kundin died on May 31st, while hospitalized as a result of the fire. On June 4th, the Designated Medical Examiner from the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office completed a post mortem examination of Mr. Kundin that determined his death resulted from the smoke inhalation he suffered and the death was ruled a homicide.

At the plea hearing, Dianna Wills admitted to knowingly starting the April 7th fire. She admitted further that she knew the homeowner, Ruth Dobbins, was inside the home thereby placing her in danger of death or bodily injury. Finally, Wills then stated that she was aware that the neighbor died as a result of smoke inhalation from the fire and that she was guilty of committing manslaughter by recklessly causing the death of Steven Kundin.