Ottumwa Crossbow Attacker Accused of Burning Mother’s House

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An Ottumwa man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to shooting his then-wife with a crossbow was arrested Tuesday after a house fire.

67-year-old George Dennison was charged with first-degree arson, a Class B felony, and two counts of animal abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor.

According to the Ottumwa Police Department, at approximately 2:15 AM on November 21, an individual called 911 to report she was trapped in her house at 502 Wabash which was on fire.

Police arrived at the home and found the homeowner, identified as 82-year-old Patricia Byrd, and were able to pull her out of the residence after breaking out a bedroom window. She was later treated at a hospital and released.

A fire investigation conducted by the Ottumwa Fire Department, Ottumwa Police Department, and the Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of the State Fire Marshall’s Office revealed that two pet dogs died in the fire.

Police say Dennison is Byrd’s son and was living with her at the time of the fire and was taken into custody as a result of the investigation.

Dennison is currently in the Wapello County Jail where he is being held without bond.

Dennison pleaded guilty to shooting his then-wife with a crossbow in August 2022 while she slept. He received two suspended five-year sentences that were to be served consecutively.

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