Updated July 23 at 2:20 p.m.

Janczewskis’ garage burns down

State Police rules fire as arson

What remains of the Janczewskis’ garage, which was destroyed by a fire the morning of July 20. The Janczewskis’ believe it was arson.
What remains of the Janczewskis’ garage, which was destroyed by a fire the morning of July 20. The Janczewskis’ believe it was arson. Eric Young


OGEMAW COUNTY — A garage fire at John and Lori Janczewski’s house on Grandjean Road near Rose City destroyed the couple’s garage and melted the siding on their home early Saturday morning.

Lt. Melvin Matthews, post commander for the Michigan State Police Post in West Branch, said the fire is being ruled as arson. He said evidence gathered at the scene is being analyzed by the MSP crime lab, and new leads gathered since the incident occurred are being investigated.

The Janczewskis believe it was someone responding to their outspokenness against several West Branch-Rose City teachers and a board member, who they said publicly supported Neal Erickson, a former WB-RC teacher who recently pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct against the Janczewski’s son.

Related stories: Victim's parents speaking out against WB-RC teachers, board memberErickson sentenced to 15-30 years in prison

John Janczewski told the Herald Saturday that he woke Saturday morning at around 1:30 a.m. to a loud bang

“I woke up to a loud, like M-80 or bomb going off,” he said. “I went to the window and saw a huge glow, brighter than the sun.”

The glow was their garage burning. He said he and his wife went outside to try and move their cars, and that’s when they noticed “YWP ITY” spray-painted on their house. John Janczewski said they’re not sure what the letters mean.

“We think it means ‘I told you,’ or something like that,” he said. “That’s really all we know.”

John Janczewski said he believes the fire was intentional.

“The police investigators are looking into it, but with the writing on my house, I would think so,” he said. “From what I can tell, but until the investigation is done, you don’t know. But it’s kind of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

According to the Michigan State Police, there is a reward of up to $5,000 being offered for information leading to an arrest in the fire. Anyone with information is asked to call Ogemaw County Central Dispatch at 989-345-9911, or the MSP West Branch Post at 989-345-0955.

John Janczewski said he doesn’t understand why someone would do something like this to his family.

“We don’t deserve this,” he said in tears. “We’re not a bad family. We’ve done nothing but stand up for our son, the victim. They could have killed my whole family. Whoever’s done this has no remorse. They have no soul.”

John Janczewski said he and his wife do not plan to stop. They are currently circulating petitions for the recall of WB-RC board member Mike Eagan.

“Whoever’s done this, we’re not going to quit,” he said. “We’re not giving up. We’re going to continue to fight, until the end.”

The Herald will continue to report on this story as more information becomes available.