Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Recovering From Burns, Arsonist’s Wife Charged With Stealing From Fellow Patients

Sharon Wand before the fire.

In April, Wisconsin man Armin Wand, 33, was sentenced to three life terms for setting a fire that killed his three young sons. At the sentencing, his wife Sharon Wand was happy, smiling in the wheelchair to which she was confined after suffering injuries in the inferno.

If Armin had had his way, Sharon would have died too. She was pregnant at the time of the fire, and lost her baby. The only other survivor of the blaze was the couple’s two-year-old daughter Jessica, who Armin tried to put back in the fire after Sharon pulled her out. In addition to receiving life terms for the deaths of his sons, Armin was sentenced for attempted murder and felony murder for the death of the fetus.

Like Armin, his 18-year-old brother Jeremy Wand pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count each of felony murder, attempted homicide and arson.

Armin Wand. Police photo.

Suffering both physically and mentally, Sharon, 27, is now recovering in a nursing home. There, police say, Sharon has gotten into some trouble, and her status as the victim of a heinous crime is no excuse. According to authorities, Sharon has been stealing property from the nursing home and its patients. According to reports, Sharon has stolen miscellaneous items, including medical supplies, jewelry, DVDs and electronics, cookware and other items. When confronted and asked to stop, Sharon would reportedly bring up the tragedy she suffered and make nursing home staff feel bad for accusing her. She was arrested after allegedly stealing a sentimental knick-knack–an Easter bunny figurine–from a 90-year-old patient at the home. Sharon was charged with three counts of misdemeanor theft and two counts of criminal trespass. She was not taken into custody and was instead moved to another treatment facility. A plea of not guilty has been entered on her behalf.

Though Sharon’s situation is indeed tragic, Iowa County Sheriff Steve Michek says it’s no excuse for stealing: “The law doesn’t give us any leeway for the fact that this person is a crime victim and can commit crimes against others. We just can’t overlook the importance of someone doing harm to an elderly, vulnerable adult.”

Since the September fire, Sharon has undergone five surgeries and several skin graft procedures. She has lost full use of her arms and legs, and will need an oxygen tube for the rest of her life. She pulled through despite being in critical condition with an estimated 10% chance of survival. In April, shortly after her husband’s sentencing, the Wisconsin State Journal published a piece praising Sharon for her perseverance.

Armin’s reason for wanting to kill four children, his wife, and an unborn baby was simple: he wanted to cash in on their life insurance and start a new life elsewhere. Armin’s new life is now in prison; Sharon’s is a life destroyed.

Slideshow: Fire Starters

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