SAGINAW (CBSDFW.COM) – A Saginaw police investigation began with a February call that the owner of an antique mall had been doused with gasoline and her business set on fire. Flash forward nearly weeks and that woman is in jail, accused of staging the entire incident herself.
“Saginaw Police Department executed an arrest and search warrant for Deborah Scott at her residence here in our city,” explained Saginaw police Officer Damon Ing.
On February 21 Scott had alleged that she had gotten into an argument with an unknown customer who suddenly threw gasoline on her and said, ‘I’m going to burn you and your store down.’
Scott told authorities she was able to escape the Sisters Antique Mall, before the suspect triggered the fire.
The 6,000-square foot building was a total loss and several vendors in other parts of the strip mall said they were lucky to have escaped in time.
After the incident Scott was treated at a local hospital.
The only suspect description Scott gave authorities was of a man wearing a red t-shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots.
Investigators say they could not verify her story. “We had vague descriptions of the possible suspect these came from Deborah Scott herself. Of course we’ve relentlessly been working on the case since the 21st and after compiling evidence and talking to witnesses having investigators do their work it led us directly towards Mrs. Scott,” said Ing.
Court records show Scott met with another woman at a nearby Walmart to discuss burning the store down.
Family members say Scott was having financial difficulties keeping the store going.
Scott ran the store with her sister, Joyce Erwin. Police say they don’t believe Erwin was involved.
Scott admitted to investigators she bought 5 gallons of gasoline the morning of the fire, but said it was meant to be used to burn down tree stumps near the store.
Nearby business owner Rod Alford said he was surprised by the arrest, but relieved to know there wasn’t a suspect. “It made you worry there might be some crazy guy out there. It is relieving to know there isn’t someone out there doing that – it is shocking knowing she did that herself. Totally blown away by that.”
Saginaw police continued to investigate the fire, and on Thursday charged Scott with arson, a second-degreee felony. The 49-year-old woman was released from jail Thursday afternoon on $15,000 bond.
Police say more charges could follow.
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