Flames destroy 'Mary's' poetic home

February 5, 2008 6:37:33 AM PST
Two men are accused of burning down the birthplace of the woman made famous by the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

John Rousseau and Michael Dreslinski, who also face charges in a series of fires in central and western Massachusetts, have been held without bail since August.

They are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in connection with the Aug. 12 fire that destroyed a vacant house in Sterling where town officials say Mary Elizabeth Sawyer was born in 1806.

Sarah Josepha Hale reportedly published a poem in 1830 about Sawyer, as a child, bringing her lamb to school with her. Other accounts, however, claim the original writer was a young man who was inspired by the incident.

Rousseau and Dreslinski were arrested in August on arson charges in a vacant warehouse fire that destroyed part of a paper mill. They are also charged in a fire that damaged a barn and a railroad bungalow.

The men, both of Clinton, pleaded innocent at their earlier arraignment in the mill fire. They were arrested on those charges following an investigation that involved police tracking the men through a global positioning system installed in Dreslinski's truck under an unrelated court order.

Calls to their attorney were not immediately returned Monday.


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