Suspect named in topless coffee shop arson

April 6, 2010 at 7:31 PM

AUGUSTA, Maine, April 6 (UPI) -- A Maine man was charged Tuesday with setting a fire that gutted the topless coffee shop where his ex-girlfriend worked.

Police were searching for Raymond Bellavance, 49, after a warrant was issued for his arrest, the Kennebec Journal of Augusta reported. Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Bellavance, an Augusta resident, has not been seen for several days.

The Grand View Topless Coffee Shop caused a stir when it opened in early 2009 in Vassalboro, a small town near Augusta. The shop and adjoining apartments, where several people were sleeping, burned in an early morning fire June 3.

Donald Crabtree, who owned the Grand View, told the Morning Sentinel of Waterville he had a confrontation with Bellavance in March 2009. He said Bellavance demanded Crabtree fire his former girlfriend, saying she was doing something illegal.

"I said I wouldn't fire her until I had evidence myself; I talked to her and she said it wasn't true," Crabtree said Tuesday. "And I told him to go right ahead and try it -- what was I doing wrong? That was the last dealing I had with him."

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