Police: Woman Set Fire To Neighbor’s Home To Keep Him From Moving Back After Jail Stint

SPRING HILL, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Authorities with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office have arrested an area resident after she set fire to her neighbor’s home in the hopes of keeping him from moving back in there after he got released from prison.

The woman, identified in a press release issued by the sheriff’s office as Debra Daines, is now in prison herself, and facing one count of arson to an occupied dwelling.

The trouble began last Tuesday, when sheriff’s deputies were called to a house fire, along with several units from Hernando County Fire and Rescue, and the State Fire Marshall.

Once the fire was controlled, firefighters found no one to be inside, and the origin of the blaze to be suspicious.

“Deputies interviewed neighbors to determine if anyone had seen any suspicious persons or vehicles in the area. Deputy Chris Owens interviewed … Daines, who lives next door,” the release indicated. “Daines told Deputy Owens that she had not seen anyone or anything suspicious, but that she had been in the residence … earlier that day assisting the landlord … with the fire extinguisher.”

Owens was quoted as saying in the release that Daines was “slurring her speech and she had an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting [sic] from her breath.”

A call to the landlord revealed that he had been on the premises a week prior, rather than a day as Daines claimed. The landlord also told police that the resident of the apartment, Donald Thayer, had been in jail for the past three months.

Daines’ story ultimately came apart just two days later, when she revealed to authorities investigating a separate matter that she had started the fire.

“[After being read her Miranda rights,] Daines advised that she set the fire by placing a lit wick from a camping
lantern under a sleeping bag that was next to the apartment on the back porch.” the release said. “Daines stated that she set the fire because she knew that … Thayer was going to be getting out of jail soon, and she did not want him moving back in next door to her.”

Daines is now being held on a $10,000 bond.

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