WEST JORDAN, Utah (ABC4) — Police found substantial evidence to arrest and charge a 22-year-old man for allegedly setting his grandparents’ house on fire while they were still inside.
Preston Castleberry is facing two counts of aggravated arson, first-degree felonies, and one count of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony.
The two elder residents told fire crews that they believed Castleberry was still inside the house. Fire crews found a large fire in the basement, where Castleberry lived, and extinguished it, but they were unable to locate him in the house.
During their search for Castleberry, the affidavit stated that a firefighter recalled finding an open notebook with the following message, “…you all think I’m crazy, I’m not crazy and demons in my head.”
The grandparents told police they woke up to the sound of fire crackling and discovered a box containing burning liquids and bottles sitting in the hallway in front of their bedroom door. It was placed in the path of the only exit of the bedroom.
The pair crawled down the hallway. The grandmother was able to escape through the front door while the grandfather picked up the flaming box and set it in the backyard.
The couple told investigators that Castleberry had been acting strange lately. They said he was isolating himself and would not acknowledge them when they speak to him.
Further investigation into the box revealed that it contained varying sizes of glass bottles filled with what police believed to be an accelerant. Each bottle had a triangle cut on the lid through which a cloth wick was inserted. Similar glass jars and an empty handgun box were found near Preston’s bed, according to the charging document.
Officers eventually located Castleberry in a church parking lot in Taylorsville. They found a loaded gun, marijuana THC products, matches and ammunition in his backpack. When police tried to question him, Castleberry exhibited signs of being under the influence of drugs. His speech was sluggish, and he could barely stay awake during questioning.
He is currently being held at the Salt Lake County Jail without bail.