Bond set at $250,000 for Montello woman facing homicide charge in fatal fire

May 1, 2019

MONTELLO — A Montello woman was ordered held on $250,000 cash bond Tuesday after prosecutors said she set her ex-boyfriend’s house on fire with him inside, killing him.

Frances E. Rittmann, 42, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of arson to a building, according to court records. If convicted, she faces life in prison.

Marquette County Sheriff’s deputies and the Montello Fire Department responded April 20 to a structure fire at 18 Cass St. in Montello.

Deputies discovered the burned body of Daniel R. Gilmartin, 43, in the first floor of the residence, near the front door.

According to the criminal complaint, an autopsy completed April 21 determined Gilmartin was still alive during the fire and did not die of natural causes. Rittmann is being held in Marquette County Jail.

The complaint says deputies spoke to a friend of Gilmartin’s, who said he received two phone calls from Gilmartin the morning of April 20. The witness said during those calls, Gilmartin said Rittmann had attempted to light a couch on fire in his garage and asked his friend to “check up on him later.”

Deputies made contact with Rittmann on April 25 and she told authorities she started two separate fires, the complaint says.

Rittmann told authorities during the first incident she had set fire to a couch in the detached garage behind the house sometime in April.

The complaint says Rittmann also told authorities that she entered Gilmartin’s house April 20 and heard him snoring in a bedroom with the television on.

She told authorities she intended to start a fire that would kill them both. But she allegedly said she changed her mind and left the residence after starting the fire without calling for help, the complaint says. Security footage recorded her entering a convenience store and remaining there for about 36 minutes.

Special agents and state fire marshals who investigated the cause of the fire classified it as incendiary, according to the complaint.

On felony bond conditions, Rittmann is prohibited from having any contact with Gilmartin’s family. Rittmann is due in court for a return date June 19.

A celebration of life for Gilmartin will be May 5 at Cress Funeral Home in Stoughton.