Police: Waterford man set fire in home, reported someone else did it

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Waterford — Police on Monday arrested a man they said lined his house with accelerant, lit a sheet on fire and then reported to his parents that their home had been burglarized.

Mark Steven Capasso Jr., 33, of 145 Bloomingdale Road was charged with first-degree attempt to commit arson, second-degree false reporting of an incident, making a false statement, reckless burning and first-degree reckless endangerment.

Police said they responded to the Bloomingdale Road home at 2:23 a.m. Monday when Capasso’s parents called 911 to report the incident. According to a police narrative of the incident, officers found several floors, couches and doors lined with a pink gel they later determined was Sterno fire starter. They also located a candle with a sheet around it and a red bottle of Sterno with its cap off. They found no signs of forced entry.

Capasso initially told police he was in the basement placing calls to the office of foreign affairs in Beijing, China, when he heard something on the floor above him. He told police he saw a glow through the cracks of the basement door and opened it to find a sheet that was burning. He said he took the sheet to the basement so it wouldn’t set off any fire alarms and then woke his parents, according to the narrative.

At one point, the narrative states, Capasso told officers he believed the Chinese government was responsible for the incident in part because a Chinese police officer had called and told him to “be careful.”

Capasso explained to officers that he has a 9-year-old daughter and an ex-wife who live in China. He said he has been having citizenship- and visitation-related issues regarding his daughter.

Police said they seized the bottle of Sterno from the home and wrote down its SKU number. Officers then visited the town Walmart, where they learned through surveillance footage that a man they identified as Capasso purchased Sterno from the store Sept. 1.

Police then called Capasso in to the station and read him his rights. According to the narrative, Capasso first gave the same story he originally had given, but then changed his tune. Capasso told officers he spread the Sterno around the house, lit the sheet on fire, let it burn for 30 seconds and then put it out, the narrative states. He said he did it to take matters into his “own hands” and speed things up with the Chinese government, according to the narrative.

Held on a $175,000 bond, Capasso's next appearance in the New London court where major crimes are tried is scheduled for Sept. 19.

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