Investigators: Suspected serial arsonist would drink before ligh - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Investigators: Suspected serial arsonist would drink before lighting fires

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Linda Gail Lee during her arraignment on June 20, 2014. Linda Gail Lee during her arraignment on June 20, 2014.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A suspect is in custody for setting dozens of fires dating back to January 2013. Arson investigators called it a huge break and said the person arrested does not normally fit the profile of a serial arsonist.

For the past 18 months, investigators with the Metro Arson Bureau have been working on the cases commonly called the wreath fires. However, investigators said Linda Gail Lee, 54, set fire to other things as well - flags, holiday decorations, dumpsters, a couch and motorcycles, causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage.

Investigators said usually after having multiple drinks at a bar Lee would drive around neighborhoods in Hikes Point and Jeffersontown and pick houses.

"About half of these are random. The other half involve property where she had a beef with the person that owned the property," said Major Ott.

Mary Salvate's home was one of the houses targeted by Lee. She lives just one street over from Lee's 90-year-old mother's home.

"I didn't know what to do I called the police," Salvate said of the incident.

The 90-year-old's porch still shows signs of damage more than one year after her silk wreath was lit on fire.

"The numbers above my house were melted," she said. Fortunately her metal door and brick home kept flames from spreading.

In March fire investigators were able to identify a suspect caught on a security camera. That's when they knew they were looking for a woman and a sedan with a Louisville license plate on the front.

On Monday, fire crews were called to a duplex fire on Belmar Drive. Investigators said Lee started the fire and made the mistake by sticking around and that's when she was taken in for questioning. 

"I think that she was glad that she got caught and she admitted that she was dangerous woman," Ott said.

Ott said Lee, who is married and has a teenage daughter, confessed to crimes, "I believe that there were some domestic issues and relationship problems and a feeling by her that she was not as successful as she wanted to be," Ott said.

On Friday Lee appeared before a judge.

During her arraignment, a judge set Lee's bond at $25,000 and ordered her not to have any contact with the locations where she is accused of setting fires.

Ott said the arrest of Lee has cleared 37 arson cases. Lee is scheduled to be back in court June 30.

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