Glass shattered in the front window of Lindell Lewis’ Fultz Street home one night near Christmas 2015.



The retired bricklayer with a bum hip awoke to find a broken pane in his front door, too.



Lewis suspected his neighbor, his family said, but he had no proof, so he hired his brother’s friend to install four security cameras to catch the culprit in action.



When Terrance Sibley arrived, Lewis was still patching up windows on his front porch when a pickup truck pulled into a driveway across the street, Sibley said this week.



“That man’s going to do something to me,” Lewis said pointing across the street, Sibley said.



Sibley said he recognized Lewis’ neighbor — Stan Ford.



They were never friends, but Sibley remembered when they were both younger and Ford had long dreadlocks. Now Ford’s hair was almost gone and his beard was mostly white.



“Back in the day, he always seemed like a good guy,” Sibley said.



A couple of months later, someone set fire to Lewis’ home, killing Lewis and a woman who was helping care for him after hip replacement surgery. No one ever was charged.



On May 15, a couple of driveways away, there was another Fultz Street house fire, killing a mother, father and five children.



This week, authorities said that was arson, too, and charged Ford, 58, with seven counts of murder.



Some who know Ford are stunned by his arrest. They knew him as a family man who loved his children and helped others.



But others, including Sibley, suspect Ford snapped.



Court records and interviews with people who know Ford paint a complicated picture of the man who could face the death penalty in a fire that ties for Akron’s deadliest.



Native of Alabama



Ford was born in Montgomery, Ala., the middle child of six or seven siblings. He spent much of his youth in Stark County. And in the 1970s, when his mom worked on the production floor of Republic Steel, the family moved to a house on Beechwood Drive in West Akron.



By then, Ford’s oldest brother and sister had both joined the U.S. Army. Another sister married an airman in the U.S. Air Force.



When he was 18, Ford, who dropped out of school in 11th grade, ran into trouble with the law after a brutal crime at West Bar, a defunct West Market Street watering hole near St. Vincent-St. Mary, where Akron Family Restaurant is now.



In 1977, three men pried bars off a basement window of the bar and broke through two security doors to reach an upstairs apartment. There, the men beat and robbed a woman and her boyfriend. Two of the men also raped the woman.



The victims suspected it was an inside job, and police later picked up an 18-year-old who worked at West Bar cleaning up. He initially denied being part of the crime, but ultimately made a deal with prosecutors. The bar employee named another man and Ford as his accomplices.



Because the men covered their faces during the crime, the victims could not identify them.



Police found no physical evidence connecting Ford to the case.



Ford failed a polygraph test, court records show, and signed a waiver allowing prosecutors to use the results against him.



At trial, the case against Ford hung mostly on the bar employee prosecutors flipped.



Ford’s family testified that he was with them in Canton at the time of the crime. His brother-in-law testified he was driving the car Ford was accused of using during the bar heist.



A jury deliberated for less than four hours before convicting Ford and the other man of multiple charges, including rape and robbery. Ford was sentenced to 15 to 75 years in an Ohio prison.



It’s unclear when Ford was released, but he was charged with drug trafficking in 1988, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison.



Since then, with the exception of traffic tickets, court records show that would be Ford’s last criminal charge for 29 years.



Former neighbor



During much of the 1990s and early 2000s, Ford lived in a 480-square-foot house he bought on Biruta Street a couple of blocks from Bob’s Hamburg in the Sherbondy Hill neighborhood.



“He was a real nice guy, the kind who would give you the shirt off his back,” said Greg Torre, 31, who grew up in the house next door to Ford’s.



Ford set up a basketball hoop on the dead end so children could play. He helped Toree’s mom, who was in a wheelchair. And he watched their home like a guard, calling if anyone was there who didn’t belong, Toree said.



The Toree family trusted Ford so much, they gave him a key to their home, Torre said.



In the 1990s, it appears Ford worked for a while at a stamping company on Wolf Ledges Parkway. Torre said he later saw Ford, in long dreadlocks, leaving for work every morning before 5 a.m. When he asked Ford what he did, Ford said he worked for the Beacon Journal. Newspaper records show Ford was never an employee here, but worked as an independent contractor delivering the paper between February 2009 and September 2011.



Ford moved out of his tiny Biruta house about eight years ago after getting married and having a child, Torre said. Toree said he last saw Ford a couple of years ago after his mother died and he was cleaning out her house. Ford came over to offer his condolences.



Torre was stunned by Ford’s arrest.



“I thought this was the craziest thing I ever heard,” Torre said. “It would be like [laid-back singer] Willie Nelson getting charged with murder.”



Toree said he called his siblings, who were just as surprised, particularly because the fire killed five children.



“Ford loved his kids. He treated us like we were his kids,” Toree said. “He was basically family.”



‘Grumpy old man’



Terrance Sibley said he visited Lindell Lewis about 10 times in the early months of 2016 after installing cameras at his house because Lewis reminded him of his father.



During that time, he sometimes saw Ford, whose corner house faced Hillcrest Street, with a garage facing Fultz.



“Something about his demeanor changed from when [Ford] was young,” Sibley said. “He had turned into a grumpy old man.”



During those visits, Lewis told Sibley that he and Ford were feuding over people who came to Lewis’ house.



“If [Lewis] had $100 in his pocket in the morning, it would be gone by the afternoon,” helping others, Sibley said.



Sibley also let people down on their luck sometimes stay with him, including a man who barely escaped the fire that killed Lewis and Gloria “Jeanie” Hart, 66, in April 2016.



Sibley was in Grafton Correctional Institution on a parole violation when he learned about the fire, he said.



“I was devastated.”



Sibley said he called Akron police from prison to tell them what he knew about Lewis’ bad relationship with Ford, but never heard back.



In January, when Sibley was released from Grafton, he called police again. An investigator called him back and took his information, but Sibley said he never heard anything more.



Last week, after Ford’s arrest, Sibley said investigators finally invited him to Akron police headquarters and told him Ford is a “person of interest.”



Akron police have not said whether Ford is a suspect in the fire that killed Lewis and Hart.



Waiting in jail



Ford, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held in the Summit County jail on $7 million bond, $1 million for each of those killed: Dennis Huggins, 35, Angela Boggs, 38, Jared Boggs, 14, and Huggins children Daisia, 6, Kyle, 5, Alivia, 3, and Cameron, 1.



Investigators have not disclosed what led them to Ford. They have also declined to answer questions about why Ford may have set the fire.



Joseph Gorman, Ford’s court-appointed attorney, has said Ford does not want to talk to media.



Rain this week dripped off a soggy collage of Huggins-Boggs family photos tacked to a tree in front of the charred skeleton of the Fultz Street house.



Many neighbors along the street were rattled by the arson fire that killed Lewis and Hart. Now some say they are too afraid to talk.



But a man who lives on Fultz waved down a reporter Thursday. The man, who spoke through an open window in his house, didn’t want his name to be used, but he said he knew what led to the fire.



A few weeks ago, he said, Ford stopped him on the street and told him the 14-year-old who lived in the Huggins-Boggs house was breaking car windows, but not to worry because he would take care of it without police.



The man said he didn’t know if the allegation against Jared Boggs was true. Akron police this week said they have no reports of Jared breaking the law, nor any surge in reports of broken car windows in the neighborhood.



About a week later, Jared died in the house fire that killed his family. The man said he confronted Ford outside his house while there was still smoke in the air. Ford denied having anything to do with the blaze, but the man is unconvinced.



“It’s so sad,” the man said, staring at the ruins of the burned house in the rain. “How could a neighborhood beef end like this?”



Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or agarrett@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @agarrettABJ .