A convicted arsonist is a suspect in a string of suspicious fires that have plagued several apartment complexes in southwest Houston since May, authorities have confirmed. John Leonard Morin, 45, was taken into custody over the weekend on an outstanding theft charge from Wharton County, according to Harris County records.
A cell phone recovered at the scene of one of the recent fires is suspected of being linked to Morin, Houston Fire Department sources said.
Officials said Morin has not acknowledged having any role in any of the almost three dozen fires that have been set at several apartment complexes centered around Bissonnet and Mullins.
Morin has not been charged in any of the recent suspicious fires.
He was sentenced to four years in prison in March 1992 after pleading guilty to arson, according to Harris County records.
Houston firefighters on Tuesday afternoon canvassed apartment complexes, including Spring Forest Apartments, where the fires broke out to make sure residents have working smoke detectors and an escape plan.
Three of the suspected fires have damaged 19 units at Spring Forest, in the 6000 block of Bissonnet. The fires have caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage, the property owner has said.
The most recent suspicious fire occurred Friday, destroying 16 units at the Enchanted Fountains apartment complex in Southwest Houston.
Since May of last year, officials have recorded more than 30 suspicious fires at apartment complexes, some occurring between 4 and 6 a.m. on Fridays. No serious injuries have been reported.