Chandler police arrest arson suspect interviewed on 12 News

Tom Leeper may have cried for the cameras but today, he's charged with setting those fires.

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Chandler police said they arrested a man for arson who was previously interviewed by 12 News for a story about a serial arsonist.

Thomas S. Leeper, 31, was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly starting four of the eight arson fires being investigated in his neighorhood.

 Police say he is an "investigative lead" in the other four arsons. 

The day before the latest fire Leeper is accused of setting, Leeper came to a community meeting held by Chandler police to address fears of a serial arsonist.

PREVIOUSLY: Chandler police investigating string of fires

Leeper cried while being interviewed, telling 12 News that he feared for the safety of his children after finding another neighbor's home burning late at night. 

Leeper had also called 12 News to ask for coverage of the serial arson case.

According to court documents, Leeper confessed to two of the fires.

He told police he started one in his nextdoor neighbor's backyard by filling a syringe with gasoline and soaking a mop with it, before lighting it on fire. That fire charred the outside wall of a child's bedroom. 

Investigators believe he then waited for fire crews to leave before writing, "FIND ME" on his own wall. He later told police and 12 News he believed the "arsonist" was targeting him because he had spoken out. 

Leeper also apparently confessed to another fire, saying he couldn't fight the urge to start a fire and lit some leaves on fire with a lighter. That fire then spread to a fence and backyard. 

No one was injured in any of the fires. 

Court documents show Leeper also told investigators he had uncontrollable urges to start fires. Chandler Police said he had also spent time in a treatment center for fire starters as a child. 


Copyright 2016 KPNX


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