Ex-boyfriend burned Hillsborough home as family slept, cops say
HILLSBOROUGH — A Somerville man was charged with first-degree attempted murder after being accused of setting fire to his ex-girlfriend's home while eight people slept inside.
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said Patrick Hammond set the fire outside the Starview Drive home around 12:40 a.m. Sunday. Investigators said he texted a picture of the burning home to a friend about 2 minutes after the fire was reported.
Hammond, 34, of Somerville, had also threatened earlier to set fire to a truck belonging to his ex, according to Robertson.
Hammond was found by police an hour later about two miles away on East Mountain Road, according to Robertson, who said Hammond began to act "erratically" and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. He will eventually be taken to the Somerset County Jail where he will be held pending a detention hearing.
He was also charged with second-degree aggravated arson.
The residents of the home, ranging in age from 4 to 64, were asleep at the time of the fire but escaped without injury. A GoFundMe page created to help the family said two cats and a pet fish died in the fire, which caused damage to several vehicles parked in the driveway.
The page identifies the residents as members of the Manfready family.
Red Cross New Jersey also responded with emergency assistance for food, clothing and other immediate needs.
Robertson asked anyone with information about the fire to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 908-231-7100, or the Hillsborough Township Police Department at 908-369-4323.