Suspect behind deadly California wildfire was trying to cover up murder, officials believe

National News

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – Officials in California announced Wednesday afternoon that last year’s deadly Markley Fire was allegedly started as an attempt to cover up a suspected murder.

The Markley Fire was a smaller fire that merged with others into the LNU Lightning Complex that burned parts of California’s Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo Counties.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office released this map of the Markley Fire zone, which shows the fire’s point of origin, as well as the locations where both fire victims were found.

The Solano County sheriff and district attorney reported the two deaths linked to the August 2020 Markley Fire are being investigated as homicides. Douglas Mai, 82, and Leon “James” Bone, 64, were found in their homes in unincorporated Solano County.

Solano County officials named Victor Serriteno as the suspect in the investigation.

Serriteno was already in custody on suspicion of killing Priscilla Castro and burning her body. The 32-year-old woman from Vallejo was reported missing after authorities in Vacaville say she went on a date with Serriteno just two days before the Markley Fire was sparked.

Her burned body was found Sept. 2 near Lake Berryessa.

The sheriff’s office said it’s now believed Serriteno deliberately started the Markley Fire “in an attempt to conceal his crime.”

“We lost the lives of three people, countless structures, countless animals and property countywide. We’re thankful we were able to bring some closure to this portion of the investigation. And hopefully serve some justice for those who were affected by this fire,” said Lt. Bryan Larsen, of the Vacaville Police Department.

Serriteno was arrested for the two homicides Wednesday morning and now faces additional charges for murder and arson.

The LNU Complex was the fifth-largest wildfire in California history. Six people died and five others were injured, and nearly 1,500 structures were destroyed.

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