For months, someone has been setting fire to abandoned homes in Saginaw; now, police believe they have their man, although his name cannot be released pending his arraignment. News reports do indicate the suspect is 49 years old, and police along with residents are relieved to get the man police are calling a “serial arsonist” off the streets.
Following police interviews with the suspect, Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser said the man is responsible for at least 14 of the fires that have occurred in recent months. He also said that the interviews did not reveal why the man set the fires, and no motive can be determined.
How did police catch the suspect? According to Kaiser, police set up on various homes in Saginaw on Tuesday the 18th anticipating the man would return to the scene of the crimes. Police were in luck; the suspect did return to a house that had been set on fire in the past. He was holding a cup police believed was filled with accelerant. Police say he struck again, and police confronted the man as he was walking away from the scene. The suspect dropped the cup, and police took him into custody. Meanwhile, the home the suspect had returned to had a porch that was noticed to be in flames by other officers.
Although it has not been revealed how police connected the suspect to many of the other recent fires in abandoned homes in Saginaw, he has been placed in the Saginaw County Jail. Police have recommended prosecutors charge the suspect with three counts of third-degree arson, and three counts of preparation to burn.
Third-degree arson is a felony involving the malicious or willful burning of and building/structure or the contents of a structure, any personal property with a value of $20,000 or more, or for anyone with a prior conviction for arson, any personal property valued at $1,000 or more. The criminal penalties for a conviction include a fine of $20,000 or up to three times the value of the destroyed property, and/or a maximum of 10 years in prison.
As you can see, the punishment for an arson conviction is severe and even life-changing. If found guilty, you will lose your freedom and likely face ruin of your reputation and career. Anyone who is arrested or under investigation for an arson crime should consult with a highly qualified Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately in an effort to protect your freedom and future.