Arson Suspect: Arraignment Likely Today, Mom Claims He's Been Taken By the Nazis [UPDATED]
UPDATED to include information about Canadian court records indicating Harry Burkhart had been diagnosed with mental illness in recent years.
Harry Burkhart, the suspected arsonist behind 53 car fires set over a four-day period last week in Los Angeles, is likely to be arraigned today, and prosecutors will reveal this morning just what and how many charges he will face. Burkhart, 24, was detained early Monday morning and arrested on one charge of arson following questioning.
The Associated Press reports that Burkhart may also be affiliated with a 2011 fire in his native Germany. "Marburg prosecutors' spokeswoman Annemarie Wied told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Harry Burkhart is being investigated in connection with an Oct. 14 house fire in the Marburg area north of Frankfurt."
However, Burkhart has not been questioned in the case, and there is no warrant for his arrest.
Burkhart's mother, Dorothee, with whom he shares a Hollywood address, also shares a week of legal problems, and connections to their native Germany. Dorothee appeared in court yesterday as part of her extradition process; she is wanted on 19 counts of fraud and a warrant was issued for her arrest in 2007.
During her court appearance, at which time a hearing for Friday was set, Burkhart seemed confused about her son's whereabouts, as she asked where he was, and suggested he suffered mental illness and may have been taken by "German Nazis."
Dorothee Burkhart has also been affiliated with a local massage service website. Among the Burkharts legal troubles include a charge that Dorothee did not pay for a breast augmentation service in Germany.
Federal agents flagged Harry Burkhart after an obscenities-laced outburst at his mother's previous court appearance prior to the arson fires over New Year's Weekend. He was spotted by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reserve deputy based on his appearance in a surveillance video released by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Burkhart was driving a van with British Columbia plates, and it has been reported he held a Vancouver address in 2010. In Vancouver, records indicate the younger Burkhart had been diagnosed with mental illness, according to the Globe and Mail:
“Harry Burkhart has been a patient of mine since year 2008,” Blaga Stancheva wrote to the Small Claims Court of B.C. in March, 2010, as part of a civil case the mother and son were involved in. “He suffers from autistic spectrum disorder since a very young child. Together with autism, he has severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and a sleeping condition currently.”
Authorities in Los Angeles have been tight-lipped about Burkhart's life and his suspected role in the arson fires since his arrest Monday.
Currently, Harry Burkhart is being held without bail. Damage estimates for the 53 fires set in Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood, and Burbank are at $3 million.