Court docs: Reds Hall of Famer mentioned in mansion fire investi - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Court docs: Reds Hall of Famer mentioned in mansion fire investigation

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(FOX19 NOW file) (FOX19 NOW file)
INDIAN HILL, OH (FOX19) -

It’s been more than three years since an Indian Hill mansion burned to the ground, but the legal drama surrounding the fire continues to smolder. 

Thousands of documents filed in federal court reveal new information surrounding a civil lawsuit between the owners of the $4 million home and their insurance company.

Jeffrey and Maria Decker say Chubb National Insurance failed to honor the couple’s claim after the 2014 fire. The insurer claims Jeffrey and Maria concealed and misrepresented facts.

The two sides paint wildly different timelines and mention several bizarre turns in the investigation - including an allegation about a former Cincinnati Red.

The court records show Decker called the Indian Hill Rangers one month before the fire to report a threatening phone call.

Decker told police "It spooked the [expletive] out of me.”

According to court documents, Decker claimed his wife traced the number to Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Chris Sabo. Decker told police he and Sabo both belonged to the Kenwood Country Club.

He also said he and his wife drove to Sabo's home and a confrontation ensued. Sabo denied having made the call and knew nothing about it. The transcript reads the Deckers informed Indian Hill Rangers about the incident.

FOX19 NOW has been unable to reach Sabo for comment.

Court documents show Decker later claimed the call was traced to a pay phone at a convenience store.

The lawsuits reveal new evidence and insight into the insurance company’s investigation – a portion of which focuses on Jeffrey’s whereabouts in the 70 minutes leading up to the fire.

Chubb says Decker had claimed to be miles away at a Blue Ash construction site when the fire broke out. However, the company’s internal investigation allegedly shows cell phone records placed Jeffrey at or around his home 16 minutes before the first 911 call about the fire.

Never-before-seen surveillance images show Jeffrey at the Madeira Walgreens shortly before the fire. Decker claimed he was at the store to buy cough drops, according to a transcript of his recorded interview with a Chubb representative.

Decker learned of the fire while paying for the cough drops, he said. His wife called him to break the news.

He paid cash and left the store.

The insurance company claims the video shows Decker leaving 110 seconds later with "no cough drop package visible in his hands."

In a separate filing, the Decker's attorney admits it's him in the store, but denies Chubb's characterization that he lied about buying the item.

While cough drops may not seem important, Chubb claims it's part of Decker's alleged trail of lies.

[SLIDESHOW: Never-before-seen photos show aftermath of Indian Hill mansion fire]

In a new filing, the Decker’s attorney wrote their expert found call records can only place a person within a 21.75 mile radius of a cell tower, which means Decker could have been at the Blue Ash job site.

Another bombshell uncovered in the documents show Chubb investigators claim the fire started in the kitchen.

Fire scene photos in the investigative report show the mangled metal of what was once alleged kitchen appliances.

The Decker’s attorneys countered that claim, saying the damage from the fire was so significant, that, therefore, there's no evidence to pinpoint exactly where the fire started.

Investigators went on to write the fire wasn't caused by electrical, mechanical, weather issues, smoking or cooking. They believe the fire was deliberately set.

However, Decker’s attorney wrote that Chubb's own investigators admitted they were limited because of the damage and samples taken from the home tested negative for accelerants.

Chubb's investigators claim accelerants could have been there, just not in those samples.

As for the official investigation into the fire, in April of 2015, the State Fire Marshal told FOX19 NOW the cause was undetermined, but the investigation remained open.

This week, we were told the office didn't "have time" for an interview on the case but, there was nothing new to report. However, in a motion to prevent the state's investigation from being revealed in civil court, the Fire Marshal argued disclosure would "create a high probability of disclosing the identity of an uncharged suspect."

The judge agreed, so it remains unclear the type of evidence that hasn’t been publicly released.

Our calls to the Deckers' attorney have not been returned.

A spokesperson for Chubb National Insurance Company told FOX19 NOW they don't comment on pending litigation.

The jury trial is set to begin this summer.

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