A Northern California blaze in 2020 that became part of one of the biggest and deadliest wildfires in state history was deliberately set to cover up the murder of a woman, officials have revealed. Now the suspect in that killing is also facing charges in the deaths of two fire victims.
Victor Serriteno, 29, of Vacaville, has been in prison awaiting trial in the death of 32-year-old Priscilla Castro, who vanished while on a date with him in August 2020. Her burned body was found the following month near Lake Berryessa in Solano County, about 60 miles west of Sacramento.
“Based on an extensive eight-month-long investigation, we believe Serriteno deliberately set the Markley Fire in an attempt to conceal his crime,” Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara said at a news conference Wednesday.
The deaths of 82-year-old Douglas Mai and 64-year-old Leon “James” Bone, whose bodies were found near where Castro’s body was discovered, had been blamed on the Markley fire. Those two deaths have now been classified as homicides.
The 30,000-acre Markley Fire merged with other wildfires to become part the massive LNU Lightning Complex blaze, one of the largest ever in California. It burned 363,000 acres, killing six people and destroying 1,500 homes and other buildings.