Waukesha garage fire now called 'suspicious,' investigation still ongoing

Published on: 2/18/2014

An investigation is continuing into a suspicious fire that sent Michael Coyle to a burn center Friday night, interim Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard said Monday.

Coyle is the Waukesha man who was charged with secretly recording two females undressing in the staff bathroom at Swimtastic Swim School.

The investigation into the fire turned up blood splatters, fire-damaged clothing, and burned areas a "considerable distance" from where the fire originated, according to a report about a search conducted at the house on Saturday by Waukesha Police.

Howard said investigators from the City of Waukesha Fire and Police departments and the State Fire Marshal's Office are looking into the cause of the fire that broke out in an attached two-car garage of a single-family residence at 1007 Motor Ave.

The search warrant reveals more details of what is now being called a "suspicious fire."

The fire was reported just after 9:30 p.m. Friday by a neighbor, who saw flames coming from the garage.

The Fire Department found a working fire upon arrival, as well as the injured Coyle, who had second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body.

The fire was quickly brought under control. Coyle, 34, was transported to Waukesha Memorial Hospital before being transferred via Flight for Life to the St. Mary's Burn Center where he was listed in "grave danger."

According to a search warrant report filed Monday in Waukesha County Circuit Court, Coyle was unable to tell investigators what had occurred.

The warrant says that besides the garage area, a detective found two other fire-damaged areas within the residence. According to the search warrant, officials found a burned area in the bathroom area, which is a "considerable distance from the garage as well as some burned clothing in the living room area."

The detective also noted that there appeared to be large amounts of blood splattered throughout the residence.

The warrant also found various fire-damaged clothing, a bed sheet swatch with blood, a red lighter, blood swabs and electronic equipment.

City of Waukesha Fire Marshal Brian Charlesworth reiterated what the warrant said: Officials have collected "a lot of evidence" and must conduct DNA samples for evidence.

Hidden camera charges

Coyle has a plea and sentencing hearing scheduled for March 19 on two felony counts of capturing an image of nudity without consent, one count of possessing marijuana and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia.

The criminal complaint said Coyle's wife found hidden cameras in the home that were made to look like common items, such as car keys and a pen. She plugged one of the devices into her computer and saw that it showed a woman changing in a bathroom at Swimtastic, 900 Tesch Court. Two women were in various states of undress in the videos, the complaint said.

Coyle admitted to police in a statement that he had secretly recorded the women's locker room at Swimtastic, where he worked as a part-time children's swim instructor, a few years ago, the complaint said.

Coyle posted a $2,000 cash bond and signed a $3,000 signature bond and was ordered to have no contact with victims listed in the complaint or Swimtastic Swim School.

Court documents note divorce proceedings began a few days after Coyle was charged last fall.