Police: Potential arsonist arrested | News
St. Petersburg, FL -- St. Petersburg Police have arrested a 26-year old Causeway Isles woman for allegedly vandalizing her neighbor's home.
But officials say Jessica Sowick is also a "strong suspect" in a string of area arsons dating back to October 2011. In fact they say she could be responsible for as many as 8 house fires over the last 18 months.
In addition detectives say she is also being investigated for arsons in Pennsylvania and Arizona which occurred while Sowick was living in those states.
Police say a surveillance camera caught Sowick writing with permanent marker on the exterior walls of a home at 181 79th Street South early Friday morning. Messages left on the home included: "Fire Starter," "You Never Got Me" and "Die, I'll kill you."
So far Sowick has only been charged with burglary of an unoccupied home but Police Spokesperson Mike Puetz says additional charges -- including arson -- could follow.
Records show someone has tried to light the home at 181 79th Street South on fire three times. Sowick lives next door with her family.
In two other Causeway Isles arson cases, Sowick had keys to the homes and was watching the homeowner's pets while they were out of town and the fires occurred.
"She was actually on our radar before this, there were a number of different circumstances that kind of led towards her, there were a few other people we've looked at but recently I'd say she came to the forefront and I'd say it pretty much borne out by the video footage that she's in fact the person that we probably need to be looking at," Puetz told reporters Tuesday.
No one answered the door at Sowick's home on Tuesday but news of the 26-year-old's arrest caught most living in the area by surprise.
"Shocked... (never thought) it would be somebody local, never imagined it," Mike McDonald said.
"It's sad," added David Loebenberg. "They are good neighbors," he said of the Sowick family.
Sowick has denied being involved in any arson or vandalism. She is free on a $10,000 bond.