News Article

Do Right Woman

Aretha Franklin is subpoenaed over house fire. Police say she's been uncooperative in answering questions about the alleged arson fire that destroyed one of her homes

Aretha Franklin has been served with an investigative subpoena to compel her to answer questions regarding the fire that destroyed one of her houses last fall. Launch.com reports that prosecutors in Oakland County, Mich., subpoenaed the Queen of Soul, her son Edward Franklin, his roommate Dr. Edward West, and security guard Tyrone Jarrett Sr. in the matter of the Oct. 25 fire, which police in Bloomfield Township, near Detroit, have said was the result of arson.

The singer was performing in Houston on the day of the fire, and investigators have said she is not a suspect, but they have complained that she has been uncooperative in answering questions, declining to speak to authorities on five occasions and having lawyer Elbert Hatchett answer questions on her behalf. ''We need to definitively establish what facts Ms. Franklin possesses about this case, and not what her lawyer wishes us to know,'' Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said in a statement Thursday. ''All of this could have been avoided with Ms. Franklin's voluntary cooperation.''

Hatchett said Franklin would ''respond to this subpoena according to its dictates and the Constitution.'' She has a week to do so. He also told Launch that the house was valued at $1.8 million but was underinsured, for less than $1 million.

Reps for Franklin have said that the house was used more for storage than as a residence. Jarrett, a former policeman with a background in arson investigation, was hired just a week before the fire, and police have said they found his car in the driveway that day.

Originally posted Jan 31, 2003