She was brought down by a single potato.
A Connecticut stripper is facing arson charges after DNA evidence on a spud matched her heroin-dealing ex-boyfriend, authorities say.
State police arrested Willow Martin, 19, of Naugatuck on Tuesday. The blonde stripteuse is accused of burning down the masonry business of a fellow dancer’s stepfather—in a jiggle joint feud that spun out of control.
Court papers reveal how Martin, who danced at Hollywood Connecticut Strip Club in Southington, allegedly sought revenge against Breonna Constantino.
The rift between the two women began in August 2015, sometime after Martin lent Constantino $1,200 and she never repaid her. The duo was on a trip to Wildwood, New Jersey, and Constantino used the cash to buy clothes, the affidavit says.
But just one month later, police say, Martin was plotting her payback. The pretty peeler allegedly torched MTM Masonry, a construction outfit owned by Constantino’s stepfather. A neighboring Chinese restaurant, Golden Wok, also succumbed to the inferno.
Martin was so furious over the money dispute that she allegedly even persuaded her 28-year-old beau, Matthew Garguilo—“a known heroin dealer,” according to state police—to fill a gas can and drive her to the Prospect firm.
As the building roasted, officials called MTM owner Michael St. John. Soon after, he spotted a potato lodged in the tailpipe of his van. St. John brought the tater to the scene and handed it to investigators, the affidavit says.
That starchy smoking gun put cops on Martin’s trail.
In January 2016, the state crime lab reported a DNA match: Matthew Garguilo, who happened to be Martin’s former boyfriend, court papers state.
According to state police, detectives tried meeting with Martin for an interview in May 2016 but she allegedly blew them off.
In her own interview with cops, Constantino admitted the falling-out stemmed from her not paying Martin back. (Garguilo later told police Constantino only reimbursed Martin $300 to $400, the arrest affidavit says.)
Constantino, who no longer dances at Hollywood, told authorities that her boyfriend told her Martin was behind the suspicious blaze. He’d allegedly heard this from Martin’s new boyfriend, who is not named in the arrest affidavit.
The ex-stripper told police she heard Martin say, “I’ll burn their shit down,” when referring to people she was angry with in the past.
Constantino also believed Garguilo was involved “because he would have done anything for Willow,” according to the affidavit.
After the arson, Martin would allegedly drive past Constantino’s family home, chucking trash in their front yard and smashing Halloween pumpkins. When Constantino’s mother, Linda, confronted Martin via text message, Martin allegedly responded, “What are you talking about; I put the trash where it belongs,” court papers say.
Martin’s new boyfriend, who dated her after Garguilo went to prison in December 2015, told authorities Martin confessed to starting the fire—and that she did it with Garguilo’s help. The couple allegedly broke into the firm through a window and poured gasoline inside the business, the affidavit says.
They initially had trouble lighting the flame, but once it started, they blew back and passed out for 30 seconds, the unnamed companion told cops.
The ex also told police, without being prompted, of the vegetable evidence. He “recalled Willow saying something about doing something with potatoes,” the affidavit states. “He could not recall exactly what she said she did.”
But he did remember Martin claiming she was pulled over days after the blaze and questioned about a potato she had in her purse.
Meanwhile, Garguilo copped to helping Martin carry out the deed.
Martin and Constantino had been arguing for weeks, he said. The dispute was so bitter that they refused to work at Hollywood at the same time, the affidavit says.
At one point, Martin allegedly tried giving Constantino a bag of Suboxone and “dope,” a potentially lethal mixture, Garguilo told cops. Martin tends to take matters to a “full extreme extent,” Garguilo said, according to the affidavit.
One night, Martin allegedly sent Garguilo a text message from the Hollywood strip club, telling him she wanted to start the fire. Garguilo noted Martin “had talked about it a couple times before,” the affidavit says. The beau didn’t want to help her, but Martin allegedly warned “she would find someone else to bring her.”
Garguilo decided against letting another guy pick her up, he told investigators. According to the affidavit, the couple drove to his parents’ house in Naugatuck and snatched one of his father’s gas cans and a hammer. Then he drove his parents’ Honda Civic to the future crime scene, the document states.
The head-over-heels accomplice claims he watched his gal pal from nearby bushes as she slipped into the back of the construction business. He never went inside, he claims, and Martin allegedly later told him she lit a napkin to spark the fire.
Garguilo told police Martin was blown back out the door, “just like in the movies,” the affidavit says. The document adds, “He thought the movies were ‘bullshit, but that really happens.’”
Martin reportedly wanted to see the destruction. Around 1 or 2 a.m., the couple cruised past the building, which was engulfed in flames and surrounded by officers. Garguilo looked to Martin, who allegedly raised her hand for a high five and emitted a joyous “Yeah!” the affidavit states.
Garguilo also mentioned the potato to authorities.
He told police that “Willow wanted to put the potato in the tailpipe because she heard it could blow up the engine,” the affidavit says. “He stated he saw her put it in the tailpipe, but knows she didn’t put it in far enough.”
Police issued a warrant for Garguilo’s arrest on July 7. He is currently incarcerated for violating probation, records show. The violation stems from his weapons and narcotics possession convictions in 2014, according to court records.
Garguilo is now charged with conspiracy to commit arson in the second degree, conspiracy to commit burglary in the third degree, conspiracy to commit possession of a burglar’s tools and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief in the first degree.
Martin was arrested five days later. She’s charged with arson in the second degree, conspiracy to commit arson in the second degree, burglary in the third degree and conspiracy to commit burglary in the third degree.
She also faces charges of possession of burglar’s tools, conspiracy to commit possession of burglar’s tools, criminal mischief in the first degree and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief in the first degree.
Martin is being held on $110,000 bail. It’s unclear if an attorney in her case has been appointed. A lawyer who represented Martin in a motor vehicle suit would not comment on her current charges.
It’s not the first time the bombshell has made headlines.
Martin was busted last month for allegedly attempting to pay a New Jersey toll clerk with counterfeit bills, the New Haven Register reported.
She was trying to cross the George Washington Bridge—which connects New York City with Fort Lee, New Jersey—around 10:30 p.m. on June 13 when the clerk called cops. Port Authority officers discovered a stash of counterfeit $10 bills, dozens of envelopes of heroin, and a large knife inside her vehicle.
Police claimed Martin’s car reeked of marijuana and that she said she had no identification or driver’s license, the Register reported. Martin was charged with forgery and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
Relatives of Martin could not be reached for comment. When the Daily Beast tried calling a relative, a man angrily yelled into the phone, “Fuck you, you ignorant cocksucker!”