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Published May 09 2012

Husband of arson suspect says she was incoherent, sobbing as their house burned

MOORHEAD – Matt Andvik testified today that his wife was “basically incoherent,” sitting on the ground sobbing as their farmhouse burned about 30 yards away in a fire the prosecution claims Tara Andvik set herself.

The blaze was the last of six fires at the Andviks’ rural Barnesville farmstead between Oct. 7 and 19. Tara Andvik is on trial for three counts of first-degree arson for allegedly setting three of the fires, two of which occurred on Oct. 12, scorching the home’s deck and destroying a barn.

Assistant County Attorney Heidi Davies said Monday that Tara Andvik set the fires so she could get revenge on a former co-worker with whom she had an affair by blaming him for the fires. Her attorney, Steven Mottinger, said it was the co-worker, Keith Beam, who didn’t like how the relationship ended and sought revenge.

Matt Andvik said he encouraged his wife to try bowhunting in 2009 and by 2010, they were shopping their hunting videos to an outdoors TV show. They met Beam after he responded to a question Tara Andvik posted online about editing video, he said.

By April 2011, Matt Andvik said he became suspicious about his wife’s relationship with Beam, who was calling their home five to 10 times a day. He said Beam told him in May 2011 that he was no longer welcome on a hunting trip to South Dakota because of an email Matt Andvik claims he never sent. Tara Andvik still went on the 11-day hunting trip with Beam.

In a July 4 conversation, Matt Andvik said Beam told him, “I’m madly in love with your wife,” and that he believed Tara Andvik felt the same way about him.

“I said basically, ‘You’re kind of a piece of crap,’ and he agreed,” he said.

Beam agreed to keep his relationship with Tara Andvik professional, but two minutes later, he was texting her again, Matt Andvik said.

Matt Andvik said that before both the Oct. 8 fire in the woods east of the home and the Oct. 12 deck fire, he had gone to sleep in their bedroom with Tara in the same bed watching TV. When he discovered the early morning fires, she was sleeping in one of their two young children’s beds, he said.

At about 6:40 or 6:45 a.m. on Oct. 12, as he was in the kitchen talking to a state fire marshal and a Clay County detective about the deck fire, the fire marshal noticed the barn was on fire. Matt Andvik said he had seen his wife sleeping at about 6:35 a.m. in their bedroom. The bedroom has French doors leading outside, which is how the prosecution believes Tara Andvik sneaked out to set the barn fire.

Check back later for an update on this story.