Arsonist said drugs led to voices in head telling him to burn himself, building

The aftermath of a structure fire on the 600 East block of Tabernacle Street, St. George, Utah, March 11, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A St. George man who was transported to the hospital Friday for injuries sustained during a structure fire on Tabernacle Street in St. George has been arrested for arson.

Benjamin Solis-Rivera, of St. George, Utah, booking photo posted March 11, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News
Benjamin Solis-Rivera, of St. George, Utah, booking photo posted March 11, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

At approximately 4:30 p.m. Friday, officials responded to the 600 East block of Tabernacle Street on a reported structure fire.

Two witnesses reportedly saw 36-year-old Benjamin Solis-Rivera covered in blood and leaving the burning building, according to a probable cause statement filed by the St. George Police Department in support of the arrest.

Solis-Rivera was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to be treated for injuries sustained during the fire. After reading him his rights, police questioned Solis-Rivera about the incident.

“He admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamines when he heard voices to go into a shed, which did not belong to him, and burn he (sic) and the shed down,” the arresting officer wrote in the statement. “He said that he started the fire inside the shed and spread it through.”

When the fire became too hot for Solis-Rivera to handle, he told police he broke a window through which he escaped the burning building, the report stated.

The fire damage exceeded $5,000, according to the statement of probable cause.

While the building was listed as unoccupied, it appeared to be used for transient purposes, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said, adding that clothing and debris were scattered on the floor.

After being medically cleared at the hospital, Solis-Rivera was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Since the damage to the property exceeded $5,000, Solis-Rivera was charged with second-degree felony arson along with third-degree felony burglary for entering the building unlawfully.

Solis-Rivera is expected to make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon before 5th District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • ladybugavenger March 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    The devil’s middle name “meth”

  • sagemoon March 15, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Dang tweeker!

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