Victim's boyfriend accused of starting fatal fire

September 07, 2017 07:04 PM

Shocking and horrifying. That’s how a friend of Ashley Coltrain describes what happened there Wednesday morning. Now, Coltrain’s boyfriend, Derrick Guilder, is charged with her murder.

22-year-old Derrick Guilder had no criminal record until Thursday. Now, he’s charged with two of the most serious offenses on the books – arson and intentional murder.


Police say Guilder set the fire that destroyed the Hudson Falls home where he was living with his girlfriend, Ashley Coltrain, because she was breaking up with him and he wanted to kill her and himself.

Prosecutors say Guilder lit some papers on fire on a couch in the downstairs living room and then went upstairs to the couple’s bedroom and closed the door. They say Ashley was sleeping, but Guilder had a change of heart.

“He started the fire, went upstairs, did shut the door, but the place became filled with smoke quickly. He panicked and got out,” explained Chief Randy Diamond with Hudson Falls Police.

Police say Guilder’s story didn’t add up from the very beginning and they say early Thursday morning, he confessed from his room at Glens Falls Hospital.

Family and friends of 18-year-old Ashley Coltrain describe her as a young woman with an irrepressible smile, who put others before herself.

“She was always happy, always wonderful. I can’t believe he’s done it. I just can’t believe anybody would hurt Ashley,” noted Evelynn Pratt, a lifelong friend.

Guilder is being held in the Washington County Jail without bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon. The charges against Guilder are punishable by 25 years to life in prison.


WNYT Staff

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