Hunt intensifies for serial arsonist in San Jose

A San Jose couple that lost everything in a fire is extremely upset with a serial arsonist who burned down their home.
January 13, 2014 10:21:17 PM PST
Neighbors are banding together to try to stop a serial arsonist in San Jose who is terrorizing people by setting at least 13 fires in the last six days.

Authorities released a sketch of the suspect taken from surveillance video. He is described as a tall, thin man between 25 and 40 years old. He typically starts his fires by setting ablaze objects that are leaned up against a wall.

The search for the brazen arsonist is growing more intense, even though he has been quiet for the last 24 hours.

A portable classroom at St. John's Baptist Church is all that's left after a fire raged through the building. It was set ablaze twice within three days. The most recent was early Sunday morning.

"I've asked myself that a thousand times. What would make someone go around just setting fires?" asked Pastor Greg Nolan.

Firefighters say it's encouraging the arsonist has been quiet for the past 24 hours.

"Hopefully, with all the information that is out there, so far, in the neighborhoods and community are being more vigilant and keeping an eye open. Perhaps, it's slowed this person down," said San Jose Fire Department Spokesperson Cleo Dawes.

Many neighbors are being vigilant, keeping house lights on and staying up overnight in shifts. Other neighbors are keeping their lawns watered in case their property is targeted next.

Until the fire starter is caught, Nolan says will keep the suspect in his thoughts.

"Me, as being a man of God, I'll pray for him. Whoever do this is lost," he said.

San Jose couple is furious at arsonist after losing all

A San Jose couple who lost everything in a fire is extremely upset with a serial arsonist who burned down their home. The couple barely made it out alive and had lived in their home for 45 years.

"I really am upset because I had walls and walls of family photographs," said Sharon LaVigna, a fire victim.

In an interview with ABC News, Sharon and Vincent LaVigna, lashed out at the man who's been terrorizing property owners near Downtown San Jose. Their Victorian is one of the properties targeted by the arsonist since Wednesday. The couple lost everything.

"Was it worth it to you? Five minutes of pleasure to see the house burn down, to see the misery you caused and the misery you're causing people?" said LaVigna.

Residents who are volunteering for the Neighborhood Watch have been given very specific instructions.

"They're staying in their homes and people should be grabbing for a phone and not for a weapon. But they're looking out for anything suspicious and notifying the police when they see that," said San Jose City Councilmember Sam Liccardo.

Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.


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