New Footage Could Link Suspect to Northland Arson Fires

By KBJR News 1

June 5, 2012 Updated Jun 5, 2012 at 7:22 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The surveillance footage, taken near the scene of the May 22nd West Duluth RV fire, shows a man, between 5 foot 6 and an even 6 feet.

"It appears to be a white male, somewhat of a medium build. He's wearing a button up, short sleeve shirt in the picture, [he] may have an undershirt underneath the button up, short sleeve shirt. He may have wire–rim glasses... 20 years of age, 30 years of age. He may be getting done with work around this time," said Duluth PD Arson Investigator Todd Kuusisto.

...relatively little known about a potential suspect that could be linked to a series of arson fires dating back to March, in both Duluth, and Superior. According to Duluth Deputy Fire Marshall, Jim Reed, while the 10 suspected, similar arson cases in Duluth could be related, the only visible pattern comes from the 6 fires on the morning of May 22nd.

"They all involve unsecured property—unlocked cars, unlocked garages. Make sure we lock our cars, and make sure we lock our garages. It's a simple thing to do, and it's been a big deterrent," said Reed.

Kuusisto calls the suspect, or possible suspects, criminals of opportunity.

"They're taking that opportunity to victimize those persons who are not keen of what's going on in their neighborhood, or leaving [their] cars unlocked, or leaving [their] garage doors unlocked, just for the simple fact that it won't happen to [them]," said Kuusisto.

And, while May 22nd fires happened in close proximity to one another, and the latest footage captures just one suspect, Kuusisto admits he can't rule out the possibility of more than one suspect involved. Kuusisto also says the video doesn't tell the whole story.

"It could be a story being told by somebody, just like in the movies. We hope it's not. We hope that this is something we can stop very quickly. we hope that this is not a game being played by those setting these fires. But, at this point we have nothing else to go on, other than this video, trying to identify one person. And, that one person may be our key to other people involved, if that's the case," said Kuusisto.

Superior authorities don't want to rule anything out, either, and have reason to believe the similarities among the fires in both cities could point them to the same individual, or individuals.

Since April, 15 suspicious fires have occurred in the Northland.