Man suspected in string of arson fires

August 14, 2009 4:35:33 PM PDT
A Houston man accused of setting nearly a dozen fires at apartments in southwest Houston is now behind bars. He was arrested late Thursday night, and investigators say he's done this type of thing before. People at the Pueblo Mio apartments have not felt safe since December of last year, when someone set fire to a unit at the complex.

Apartment manager Wanda Martinez said, "Scared, they were scared. They were all wanting to move out."

Prosecutors say they now know who set that fire. Convicted serial arsonist John Leonard Marin was arrested Thursday in El Campo. He is charged with felony arson and investigators suspect his involvement in dozens of other fires over the last eight months in the Gulfton area.

"I feel safer because he's going to stop doing what he was doing," said resident Jacqueline Cina.

It's the same neighborhood where Marin was convicted back in 1992 of setting some 50 fires. He served four years in prison for felony arson. Back then, Marin would return to the scene of his fires and he was caught at one of them.

This time investigators say Marin left a calling card in the form of his cell phone at the burned out unit which had been locked by the property owner. Records show he also came back to the scene later, seeking work as a security guard.

Marin was arrested for filing a false police report and served 150 days back in March, but he could not be held any longer than that without evidence tying him to this fire. Now prosecutors say they could link him to other cases. They anticipate at least one more charge, possibly as early as next week.

In court Friday Marin asked for a lawyer. He goes back before a judge on Monday.

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