Man charged with setting Halloween decoration fire in Roscoe Village, decapitating holiday inflatables

Mario Munoz (inset) and a surveillance image of the arson suspect. | Ring; Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — A Logan Square man is charged with setting fire to a Halloween display in Roscoe Village this month, Chicago police said.

Mario Munoz, 34, is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse this afternoon. He’s charged with one felony count of arson and misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

The arson charge stems from a small fire set to a bale of hay on a porch in the 2200 block of West Roscoe around 3:43 a.m. on October 11. The homeowner extinguished the fire, which scorched the floor of the porch and a column, according to prosecutors. A nearby surveillance camera captured images of the suspect, which were released to the public.

Those images paid dividends around 5:15 Tuesday morning when a Roscoe Village resident leaving for work saw Munoz walking near Addison and Hoyne and called 911. Cops stopped Munoz, collected his information, and informed arson investigators. They arrested him later in the day after comparing images of the suspect from the cops’ bodyworn cameras with video of the arsonist, according to prosecutors.

He was also charged with criminal damage to property in the 4100 block of North Maplewood on October 12. Those allegations involve the decapitation of inflatable Halloween figures outside a home. A Ring surveillance camera recorded that incident:

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) emailed his constituents that more charges may be forthcoming.

“I deeply appreciate the work of 19th District Tactical Lieutenant Bill Lohse, Captain Terry Forbes, Sergeant Jason Slater, and others within CPD to apprehend this individual, as well as the efforts of local businesses and neighbors who provided video evidence during the investigation,” Martin wrote. “My heart goes out to those affected by this individual’s actions and I hope the remainder of our Halloween season can recapture some of the joy that our community has lost in recent weeks.”

Martin called Munoz a “suspect” in the most serious incident in a string of recent arson incidents—a house fire in the 3600 block of North Hoyne that began when someone lit a decorative hay bale on fire last week. Police did not announce charges in connection with that case, but Martin said more charges may be in the offing.

After the fire on Hoyne, Chicago police released a community alert that linked several Halloween decoration fires that they believed were the work of a serial arsonist:

  • in the 4600 block of North Lincoln at 1:50 a.m. on October 4
  • in the 2100 block of West Montrose at 3:48 a.m. on October 4
  • in the 4500 block of North Lincoln at 4 a.m. on October 4
  • in the 4600 block of North Lincoln at 4:13 a.m. on October 7
  • in the 4000 block of North Lincoln at 2:58 a.m. on October 9
  • in the 2100 block of West Agatite at 3:10 a.m. on October 11
  • in the 2200 block of West Roscoe at 3:43 a.m. on October 11
  • in the 3600 block of North Hoyne at 3:27 a.m. on October 16

Someone also set fire to a Halloween decoration in Lincoln Square on Saturday morning. The fire started around 2:45 a.m. Saturday outside a home in the 4900 block of North Bell. A video shared on the Ring network showed a hanging decoration on fire, but the security system did not record footage of the arsonist.

In the footage, a large flame crawled up the side of the house, then subsided after a few seconds. Later, minor damage was visible on the home’s stonework and siding, but the fire did not spread to the home.

“My heart goes out to those affected by this individual’s actions and I hope the remainder of our Halloween season can recapture some of the joy that our community has lost in recent weeks,” the alderman concluded.

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