Characteristics of an arsonist - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Characteristics of an arsonist

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KTRE) - Millions of dollars in damage have been caused in the seven suspicious church fires, and that does not include countless memories now charred by the hands of an arsonist. So, why would someone do this?

"Something happened to this individual or individuals and at a church in the past or whatever, but there's a reason why they are targeting churches," said Jimmy Purcell. "You just never know it could be anybody.

Virginia Derouen teaches at Longview High School and holds a degree in criminal sociology and psychology. She says there are characteristics to watch for in this kind of arsonist.

"They're always going to have on their possession or in their possession the materials it's going to take to start those fires - the tools of the trade so to speak," said Derouen. "They want fear in a community."

Similarities in the church fires could prove to be a big break for investigators. All of the blazes were intentionally set in the early morning hours or during the weekend, which could mean whoever is behind them has a day job.

Some other distinct characteristics?

"They do like to brag about them, they are professionals at what they do, they usually are loners [and] we find they are more male than female," said Derouen.

"It's typically about 17-26-[year-old] males that are doing this," said Purcell.

The why may be something very simple.

"Power," said Derouen. "They do see themselves as being a little bit narcissistic above the law."

And, it is usually their desire that leads to their destruction.

"A lot of arsonists will do it over and over again until they are caught," said Purcell.

All information on arson profiles, including the East Texas incidents, are categorized in the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crimes.

Copyright 2009 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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