“It appears to be some retaliation against the principal for a couple of them being suspended for the week prior.”
Payette High School Principal Mark Heleker, his wife and their 24-year-old daughter managed to escape with their pets after the fire started in the early morning hours of February 22nd. The fire ruined the Heleker's home and destroyed three family member's cars that were parked in the driveway.
Heleker’s daughter Katie, saw the fire coming from the garage while taking her dog out for a walk. She quickly ran back in the house to wake the family up, Heleker told local media.
The fire was deemed suspicious from the beginning after Heleker’s son, who was away at college, was made aware of some disturbing comments about the fire on social media from students. He then notified fire officials. The most damning evidence against the four boys came from multiple Snapchat messages, where they made statements bragging about the fire that included flame emojis.
“That’s where we started,” Chief Clark said referring to social media. “Then we were receiving information from other students about particular students bragging about the fire.”
Heleker's family is currently staying in a nearby hotel and borrowing cars from friends and family. Payette High Schools students have also shown an amazing amount of support for their principle. They created a GoFundMe page for the Heleker family with the goal of raising $2,000.