NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - New Port Richey police believe they know the identity of a serial arsonist who began setting fires back in July.
An 11-year-old boy who lives on the 6000 block of Indiana Avenue along with his grandmother was arrested and charged with arson Wednesday night. The boy's name is not being released because he is a juvenile.
"He has no remorse," said Cpl. Daniel Durivou, with the New Port Richey Police Department. "In my opinion, he is a sociopath."
The boy, according to authorities, admitted to setting six fires.
"Legitimately, every night, we were on a first name basis with neighbors. that is how often we were there," Durivou said.
Since July 2, 2011, the New Port Richey Fire Department and New Port Richey police have been called out on 11 fires on the block in which the boy lives. Over the past few weeks, officers say the frequency of the fires increased and a pattern was identified that led investigators to the boy.
The fires consisted of sheds, trees, chairs and other items at multiple residences.
Officers working undercover surveillance Wednesday night say they watched the boy set fire to his own home. That is when the boy was arrested.
"This isn't the first time [he's tried to set his house on fire],"Durivou explained.
Police said they interviewed the boy several times during the course of their investigation but could not establish probable cause at those times.
No one was injured during the fires but people were inside of a home that was set on fire. The home was damaged.
An elderly couple who live on the block claim the boy threw a Molotov cocktail at their shed February 1 setting it on fire. They, like many other alleged arson victims, declined to speak on camera because they fear the boy and his family will retaliate against them.
The elderly couple went on to tell ABC Action News the boy shot out multiple windows in their home with a BB gun and showed us the boarded up windows. They also said the boy shot them with a BB gun at point blank range.
According to police, the boy's grandmother would cover up his crimes and even put out fires he started. One neighbor described the boy and his family members as mentally challenged.
"She would make excuses like, 'He was at home with me,' or 'He was in bed,'" Durivou explained. Durivou said the grandmother swore at officers when they arrested her grandson.
Police are now considering pressing charges against her.
Detectives say the boy's father spent time in prison for attempting to light his mother on fire and this is likely why the boy began setting fires. The boy's mother is OK but police say her whereabouts are unknown.
ABC Action News did go to the boy's house for comment but no one answered the door.
Meanwhile, the boy is being held at the Pasco County Juvenile Assessment Center.
According to Durivou, the boy is well known at the police department which is less than a minute drive from where the fires were set. Officers claim they caught the boy killing animals in the past and say they had to take a knife away from him on several occasions.
"He is hardcore," Durivou said.
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