Man facing murder, arson charges after deadly Cobb condo fire booked into jail


A 63-year-old man charged with felony murder and first-degree arson was booked into the Cobb County Jail Wednesday evening, jail records show.

Richard Elsner is accused of intentionally setting a fire at a condominium in the 2000 block of Drennon Avenue in Austell on Oct. 23 that killed Sharon Croft, 62, and a small dog.

MORE: Man faces murder, arson charges after Cobb condo fire kills woman, dog

However, his next-door neighbor, Rodney Greenfield, told Channel 2 Action News Elsner has dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and he isn’t capable of committing the crimes he’s accused of.

“The judge is gonna say, ‘C’mon man, seriously? If he's in this state now, he had to be in this state when it happened,’” Greenfield said.

 

Elsner lived in the apartment with his wife, Diane, and Croft. Around 7:20 a.m., Cobb firefighters arrived at the condo after a fire started in an upstairs bedroom. 

Elsner and his wife evacuated the burning building, but Croft was rescued by firefighters and taken to WellStar Cobb Medical Center, where she later died. The fire was initially ruled an accident by authorities.

RELATED: Woman, dog die in Cobb County condo fire

On the day of the fire, Diane Elsner spoke to Channel 2 about how Croft was one of her best friends.

“I loved her to death, and she was like a sister to me,” she said. “My husband is disabled, so I tried to get him out because he was in the room where the flames were, so I had to try to get him down the stairs, and once I did that and tried to go back up, it was just too hot ... I couldn’t breathe.”

 

Cobb County Fire Investigator Brian Beaty previously told AJC.com that witness statements and text messages that showed there were previous fires at that condo were factors in charges being filed against Richard Elsner.

Elsner underwent surgery at WellStar Cobb Medical Center after the fire, and he now remains in jail without bond, according to jail records.

An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call fire investigators at 770-499-3869.

In other news:



Next Up in Local

Marietta man ejected from truck, seriously injured during Cobb crash
Marietta man ejected from truck, seriously injured during Cobb crash

A man was seriously injured after being ejected from his truck during a two-vehicle wreck in Cobb County Monday, police said. Patrick Bruce, 38, of Marietta, was driving his 1998 Ford F-150 north on Canton Road when he left the roadway around 6:30 a.m. for unknown reasons, striking a utility pole and a stone wall, Cobb County police said in a news...
Walton County lawyer, judge faces 12 child porn, enticing children charges
Walton County lawyer, judge faces 12 child porn, enticing children charges

A Walton County lawyer, part-time judge and ex-special assistant attorneys general (SAAG) faces 12 charges of sexual exploitation of children, Channel 2 Action News reported. George Randolph Jeffrey, who goes by Randy, was arrested amid a joint investigation by the GBI and FBI, Channel 2 reported Monday. Documents obtained by the news station indicate...
Defense: Uber Eats driver accused of killing Morehouse grad shot in self-defense
Defense: Uber Eats driver accused of killing Morehouse grad shot in self-defense

The attorney for an Uber Eats driver accused of killing a customer wants a judge to throw out the charges against his client.   Robert Bivines’ attorney filed a request for an immunity hearing, allowing a judge to decide if his client acted in self-defense when he allegedly killed one of his customers in February. If the judge agrees...
Director Sean Anders on filming ‘Instant Family’ in Atlanta and Cobb
Director Sean Anders on filming ‘Instant Family’ in Atlanta and Cobb

Sean Anders sat in a mostly empty event space at Four Seasons Atlanta, casual in a ball cap with a “Wagner Custom Renovations” logo — a nod to the fictional company in his latest movie, “Instant Family.” He patiently awaited a delivery from South City Kitchen around the corner.  “I wasn’t really...
Texas pet shelter gets food donations from community 
Texas pet shelter gets food donations from community 

A Texas animal services company got some paw-sitive news this week, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  San Antonio Animal Care Services announced last week that it had just nine bags of dog food in its pantry, the television station reported. Since then, the nonprofit group had more than 8,000 pounds of pet food donated within...
More Stories