A 23-year-old man in Lake County has been accused of purposely setting an elderly Rollins man’s house on fire last November.
Shane Thomas Northweather was arrested on April 6 on charges of felony arson, attempted deliberate homicide, burglary and theft. Northweather is set to appear at an arraignment in Lake County District Court on April 20.
According to court documents, firefighters responded to a house fire in Rollins shortly after 11 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2016. Law enforcement spoke with Northweather who said he had done work for the homeowner and was staying in a guesthouse on the property. Northweather said he had been in the house a few minutes before the fire was reported to gather some firewood and that he had seen the homeowner sleeping on the couch. He said that there was a fire in the fireplace when he was inside.
Later, the homeowner told law enforcement that he had not slept on the couch that night and that there had never been a fire in the fireplace. He also said he did not give permission to Northweather to stay in his guesthouse that night.
The homeowner told law enforcement that earlier in the day he had been drying money out on the counter of the house and that there was between $9,000 and $19,000 worth of cash out.
A few days after the fire, Northweather and his girlfriend moved to Arkansas. Northweather claimed that he had gotten money to move from his grandfather but law enforcement could find no evidence of such financial transfer.
If convicted, Northweather could face life in prison.