Arson gives cash-strapped homeowner hope

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John D. Lummis and his ex-wife Cynthia Macbeth own a house where Lummis lived with his girlfriend, Beth Howe, and her three children. "Lummis was in a financial bind: between the $1,300 a month garnished from his wages in order to pay child support for four of his six children, and supporting Howe and her three children, he had not made a mortgage payment for almost two years." The mortgage holder, Cendant Mortgage Co., had been paying the premiums on the State Farm homeowner's insurance policy. On Feb. 5, 2003, Cendant obtained a mortgage foreclosure decree on the house. The next day, the house burned to the ground. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. Howe called 911 to report the fire around noon. She then phoned Lummis at work. Lummis's boss offered him a ride home immediately. He turned it down. But he took his buddy up on a second offer of a ride home later in the afternoon. After Lummis got home, he reported the fire to State Farm. "The agent who took his call thought ...