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Mental Health & Arson - Is There A Connection?

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From CF News13 --

 

More than two dozen suspicious fires have been set in three counties this summer and investigators have only made an arrest in one of the cases. The fires were set at homes and other buildings in Orlando, Sanford and, just this week, Daytona Beach.

 

Part of the investigation is figuring out why someone would set a fire intentionally. Dana West is a licensed clinical social worker at Total Life Counseling. West studied this type of behavior and said setting fires can be a form of release for someone who is struggling. “Behind those kind of behaviors is usually a lot of anger, pain and sadness,” said West. “Arson is destructive and it is about power and control,” said West.

 

Leaders with the International Association of Arson Investigators agree. Investigators said there are different motives behind a serial arsonist. Each expert said they are not speaking specifically about the recent cases we’ve experienced in Central Florida. But in general, investigators said a serial arsonist is often a person with ties to the community who either lives, works, or socializes in the areas where they are setting fires. Arsonists can be thrill seekers, or angry people who like to watch destruction and chaos, according to Bobby Schaal with the International Association of Arson Investigators.

 

He said an arsonist frequently returns to the scene to watch the chaos and feel a sense of power and control. In rare cases it can even provide sexual satisfaction for the arsonist. Schaal said in certain cases the arsonist has a hero complex in which they set the fire and come to the rescue once it is burning. Experts agree that each case is different and there are various reasons that motivate people to set fire.

 

They said collecting insurance money is also a reason for many to set a fire to a home or building. But regardless of the reason behind the behavior, investigators use this information to help stop serial arsonists before they strike again. Law enforcement continues to ask the community to be vigilant and report any suspicious behavior in their communities. Police are still looking for Steven Angle to question him about the fires in Sanford. If you have any information, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).

 

 

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