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Suspected arsonist attended 50th high school reunion in California after setting 13 wildfires in two days: authorities

2019-09-29

A 68-year-old suspected arsonist attended his 50th high school reunion in California after authorities say he set 13 wildfires, including nine on the day of the party.

Freddie Graham allegedly set four fires on Sept. 20 and the rest the following day, according to the Mercury News. He attended the reunion in Milpitas on the evening of the 21st.

“He was excited to come,” classmate Rich Santoro told the Mercury News. “I talked to him five or six times during the night. He was happy he was there. He told me, ‘I didn’t expect to have this much fun.’ It turns out he had already set the fires.”

Graham is a Milpitas native who has been living in Missouri for the last 30 years. He was set to return to the Midwest when he was arrested at an airport in San Jose on Sept. 23.

Santoro said he was stunned when he saw a photo of Graham in the newspaper on Friday.

“At first we didn’t want to believe it. ‘It’s gotta be someone else,'” Santoro told the Mercury News. “Then I saw the picture. Holy smokes, that’s him.”

Graham told investigators that he was feeling “emotional” following the death of his wife last year. They had planned to spend time in California, according to the Mercury News.

The fires did not cause any injuries or structural damage. Graham is being held on $2 million bail on 13 counts of arson and two special counts of arson during a state of emergency, declared by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year.

With News Wire Services