Arson suspect: "I ran through the flames" - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Arson suspect: "I ran through the flames"

STEVENS POINT (WAOW) – A 39-year-old man Stevens Point man told investigators he started his apartment on fire with gasoline and needed to run through flames to escape, a criminal complaint says.

Roy Strait planned the fire because he “felt alone and wanted to go back to prison,” according to the complaint charging him with three felonies – arson and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Strait detailed for police how he started the March 4 fire that forced two people to be rescued and destroyed a home remodeled into four apartments.

He “gasolined it,” the complaint said. “Just put it all over, the clothes in the bedroom, the mattress, the closet, the living room chair, couch, kitchen. I wanted to use a couple of flares but the candle lighter worked. And once I was trapped, I ran through the flames and got out of there.”

Strait told investigators he covered the windows in his apartment with sheets “so the flames could run up,” the complaint said.

Strait remains in jail on a $100,000 bond and is to return to court March 24, according to online Portage County Court records.

Strait told investigators he had been in prison four times, including for forgery and theft, but he had not been involved in arson before March 4, the complaint said.

Strait said he planned the fire “a couple of days” earlier because he got in a family dispute and his parents blocked his phone number, the complaint said.

Strait said he bought a gasoline can and some socks and had a prescription filled at Walmart in Plover on March 3.

Mr. Strait said he bought the clothes and had his prescription filled so he would have those things when he went to prison,” the complaint said.

Strait told investigators he knew three others lived in the four-plex and they seldom left, the complaint said.

Asked what would have happened if one of the neighbors had died, Strait said he “probably get in more trouble,” the complaint said.

Police recovered a red plastic gas can near an upstairs apartment door and it was still about one-third full of gasoline, the complaint said.

A neighbor of Strait's told investigators he “heard a thud” from the apartment above his, he smelled smoke, he went outside to investigate, he saw flames and he called 911, the complaint said.

When taking the neighbor to the Point Motel for the night because he no longer had a home, police were approached by Strait, the complaint said.

I guess you're here for me,” Strait told the officer, showing him four bags he had with him that he described as “prison stuff,” the complaint said.

Strait told the officer he was going back to prison “because I started the fire...with gasoline and my candle lighter,” the complaint said.

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