Woman set fire to stranger’s porch after no one answered her knocking, police say


Michelle Young (Burlington, Iowa Police Dept.)

Michelle Young (Burlington, Iowa Police Department)

A 46-year-old woman in Iowa was arrested after she allegedly started a fire on the porch of a stranger’s home, explaining she was a witch and the home had a sign that read “Witches Welcome.”

Michelle Young was taken into custody on Tuesday and charged with one serious misdemeanor count of reckless use of fire or explosive or destructive device, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a news release from the Burlington, Iowa Police Department, officers responded to a home in the 2200 block of Vineyard Avenue in Burlington, Iowa, at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday after the homeowner called 911 and reported receiving an “alert of motion” from her security camera.

The homeowner was not in her residence then but told the dispatcher that a woman had just “lit a fire” on her porch. The homeowner also noted that she did not know who the woman was and had never interacted with the alleged fire starter.

Once there, first responders said they found Young on the porch. She told the officers that her friend lived in the home before allegedly confessing that she had just started a fire on the porch of the residence.

Police said firefighters from the Burlington Fire Department quickly put out the fire, which caused minimal damage to the residence.

Officers placed Young under arrest and, during a search, found she had drug paraphernalia, resulting in an additional misdemeanor charge.

According to a report from The Hawk Eye, Young also told police that she had been walking around the area picking up a slew of random items before she got to the residence.

Believing it was her friend’s home, she said she knocked on the front door three times, but no one answered. She claimed the home had a sign that read, “Witches Welcome.” She then reportedly told officers that she was a witch herself and decided to set some clothing and a few of the items she had just collected on fire.

She reportedly emphasized that she did not intend for the fire to harm anyone or get out of control and damage the property.

Young was booked into the Des Moines County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on the afternoon of March 29 for her preliminary hearing.

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