Joel Paul Williams is the fire starter, allegedly. The 33-year-old homeless man has been charged in connection with two of the four fires that have struck abandoned buildings in the Collins Park area of Miami Beach in the past few days. Though, investigators believe he may be behind as many as ten separate fires. Update: According to The Herald, Williams has offered some sort of explanation: "I'm insane." Alright then.
The latest fire started blazing last night at around 7:30 p.m. in an abandoned building at 1817 James Avenue.
Police spotted Williams at the scene of that fire and recognized him from previous surveillance footage. They then followed him for two and a half hours and after spotting him entering yet another abandoned building they stopped to talk to him.
A canine smelled accelerant on Williams, and police found two knives on him. He later admitted to police that he didn't think the fire would harm anyone as he checked every room on every floor before setting the blaze.
Police say that Williams is a hardened criminal with a long rap sheet.
He's been charged with two counts of arson, carrying a concealed weapon, and burglary. Police however believe further investigation will show he is behind all four building fires, as well as several other smaller fires that have been started in dumpsters.
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