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Sheriff: Man intentionally set deadly California wildfire to cover up a murder

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Posted at 1:50 PM, Apr 29, 2021

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. — Authorities in Northern California have charged a man they believe set a deadly wildfire last year in an attempt to cover up a murder.

After an 8-month criminal investigation, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office and Cal-Fire announced Wednesday that they’ve determined the cause of the 2020 Markley Fire was arson. That wildfire killed two people in the county and those deaths are now considered homicides.

In the aftermath of the fire that started on Aug. 18, officials say they found two victims deceased in their homes, 82-year-old Douglas Mai and 64-year-old Leon “James” Bone. Additionally, the body of a missing person, Priscilla Castro, was discovered in the Stebbins-Cold Canyon area.

The Vacaville Police Department arrested a man, Victor Serriteno, in connection with Castro’s death in mid-September. He was charged with murder and has been in custody since his arrest.

During the course of the fire investigation, the sheriff’s office says it determined Serriteno deliberately set the wildfire in an attempt to conceal his crime. And on Wednesday, detectives filed additionally charges against the suspect, including murder and arson.

The sheriff’s office released a map showing the boundaries of the fires and locations of each of the recovered victims.