South Bay News

Sketch released of suspect in San Jose serial arsons

Saturday, January 11, 2014

San Jose residents and officials are on high alert. As the search continues for a serial arsonist suspected of setting eight fires in the last four days, investigators say they have a major clue in the case.

San Jose fire officials believe the man you see in the sketch is responsible for setting a string of downtown fires in last four days.

"These fires must stop," said Robert Sapien with San Jose Firefighters Union Local 230. "Your San Jose firefighters offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction for the person or persons responsible for causing these fires."

The fire department says the suspect may not be acting alone.

The latest blaze destroyed most of a Victorian home on St. John Street at about 4:20 a.m. Saturday. The elderly couple living there escaped safely.

Across the street, surveillance cameras on Eric Kupferer's house captured a man walking by his house four times shortly before the fire started. The man is seen holding something in his hand.

"But to come by four times is kind of suspicious," Kupferer said. "Especially in a gap of, the first time we see him is a little after 3 a.m."

Firefighters arrived on scene minutes after the man is seen on camera for the last time.

The fire department used this video and other surveillance clips to come up with a sketch. He is described as a thin white or Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches, wearing baggy clothes.

His motive is unknown.

"I don't know what makes a person tick," said Christopher Murphy with the SJFD Arson Unit. "They talk about things like revenge and spite."

Arson investigators say eight fires have been intentionally set in a six block area of San Jose. All started from the outside.

That includes a house fire Thursday on San Antonio Street. Two residents got out safely.

On Wednesday, a portable unit at a Baptist church on the same street was torched. ,

"I mean, it's alarming," homeowner Ted Stroll said. "I don't want to be the next victim, that's for sure."

For now concerned neighbors are on alert.

Fire officials urge downtown homeowners to keep debris away from your house and keep outside lights on.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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fire, san jose, arson, crime, south bay news
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