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Vacaville man held for allegedly starting deadly wildfire to cover up a homicide

Vacaville man held for allegedly starting deadly wildfire to cover up a homicide

  • Updated
Hennessey Fire

Jerry Kuny makes a phone call as flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires approached in rural Napa County on Aug. 18, 2020.

VACAVILLE — A man charged with killing a woman in Northern California was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of setting a fire to cover up the crime that spread and killed two other people, authorities said.

Victor Serriteno, 29, of Vacaville was booked after an eight-month-long criminal investigation, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said.

Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams said he will be charged with additional counts of murder and arson and was scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Serriteno was already jailed without bail after being arrested last year for the death of 32-year-old Priscilla Castro. Her burned body was found on Sept. 2 near Lake Berryessa.

Serriteno pleaded not guilty to her murder.

Castro vanished on Aug. 16 after failing to return home from a planned date with Serriteno in Vacaville, authorities said. The two had met online.

Two days later, a blaze dubbed the Markley Fire erupted in the area where Castro's body was found and merged with other blazes to become the LNU Lightning Complex, which caused six deaths and destroyed about 1,500 homes and other buildings in six counties — Napa, Lake, Yolo, Solano, Colusa and Sonoma.

Two of the fire victims — 82-year old Douglas Mai and 64-year old Leon “James” Bone — were found dead in their homes in unincorporated Solano County, the Sheriff's Office said.

An investigation involving the Sheriff's Office and state fire officials has concluded that the source of the fire was arson and the deaths “are now considered homicides," the Sheriff's Office said.

“Based on the extensive investigation, we believe Serriteno deliberately set the Markley Fire in an attempt to conceal his crime," the office statement said.

Assessing the damage of the Hennessey Fire on Aug. 24 at the communities around Lake Berryessa. 

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