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Woman Charged With Setting Her Own House on Fire, Killing Dog

Milltown Home Destroyed in Suspicious Blaze on Pershing Avenue
Milltown Fire
39 Pershing Avenue was destroyed in an early-morning fire on September 5. KT Riley Photography

MILLTOWN, NJ--A home in the quiet borough of Milltown erupted in flames in the early-morning hours of September 4.

Karen Piciullo, the 50-year-old homeowner, was charged the following day with aggravated arson and criminal mischief, according to a press statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO).

"The fire destroyed the entire 1 ½-story house and resulted in the death a dog," read the statement.

The MCPO statement indicated that Piciullo started the blaze at about 5:24am.

According to a March 2015 obituary, Piciullo lost her husband, whom she shared the home with, some 18 months before the fire. 

She was arrested the following day in an investigation by Lt. Christopher Johnson of the Milltown Police Department, Sgt. Wayne Canastra of the MCPO, and Detective Nicholas Chiorello of the MCPO, with assistance from Deputy Fire Marshal James Rinker and Deputy Fire Marshal Scott Volkmann of the Middlesex County Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Milltown Fire Department and North Brunswick Fire Department "assisted with gaining control of the fire and preventing the fire from spreading to nearby houses," according to the official statement.

As of September 12, Picciullo is still behind bars in Middlesex County Jail, being held on $150,000 bail.

The records department at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center confirmed that a judge will need to sign off that Picciullo has been evaluated psychologically before she can be released.

"[Bailing her out] requires a bail source packet proving where your money's coming from and before she posts bail she has to have a psychological evaluation," said the records department.

The investigation is active and is continuing, according to a press release issued by the MCPO.  New Brunswick Today obtained the release despite all of our reporters being removed from the MCPO's media list.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lt. Johnson of the Milltown Police Department at (732) 828-1100.