$15,000 reward for information that leads to arsonist's arrest - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Crime Stoppers: $15,000 reward for information that leads to arsonist's arrest

Damage to Jon Perkinson's home from a fire started by an arsonist. Damage to Jon Perkinson's home from a fire started by an arsonist.
An arsonist targeted this home on May 25, 2012. An arsonist targeted this home on May 25, 2012.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – An arsonist is on the loose in Wilmington and now, there's up to a $15,000 reward for information that leads to the person's arrest and conviction.

It was a little after midnight on May 25, 2012, when someone snuck up to Jon Perkinson's home on Wayne Drive and set it on fire.

Perkinson was asleep in his home at the time.

He said he woke up to a neighbor pounding on his door.

"He said, ‘Your house is on fire', Perkinson recalls. "And I stood up and there was a canopy of smoke inside the entire house."

Perkinson thought he could put out the fire himself.

"I got the kitchen fire extinguisher and pushed in the door and it was a wall of flames," he said.

Making matters worse, his pet, Claude, was trapped.

"I have a blue and gold macaw and he was stuck inside and I couldn't get to him," he said. "That was the worst."

He alerted firefighters his pet was stuck in the home. Firefighters rescued the macaw. When they brought him out, Perkinson says the bird was covered in soot.

"They gave me one of the respirators and put it on his head and he wouldn't leave my shoulder the rest of the night," he said.

Although firefighters quickly controlled the fire, 30% of the house was destroyed and 100% of it had smoke damage. In all, the damage totaled $150,000.

Because his car was parked close to the home, the fire destroyed that too.

Christmas decorations he stored in the attic melted from the heat of the fire. Cookbooks he collected turned to ash.

The fire took months to repair. Nearly everything that was in the home had to be professionally cleaned.

Even now, there's still some smoke damage that can be seen in the home. In cupboards of the master bathroom, which was on the opposite side of the home from where the fire was set, there are outlines of shampoo bottles and other toiletries.

While for the most part, all of the signs of the fire are gone, the unanswered questions remain.

"Do you think they knew you were inside?" Ashlea Kosikowski asked.

"Oh, definitely," he said. "My car was right there. Right next to where they started the fire. Somebody's crazy. Somebody's definitely crazy out there."

That's why Perkinson and Crime Stoppers are offering reward money to try to get the suspect behind bars.

Perkinson is putting up $10,000 of his own money and Crime Stoppers is adding up to $5,000 to sweeten the deal.

WPD Spokesperson Linda Rawley said she's hopeful this will prompt someone to help police solve the case.

"I know it will motivate people to come forward, especially if they had a conversation with a possible suspect," she said. "Perhaps the reward will spur them to come forward. There's a possibility that someone may be watching the Crime Stoppers tonight and may remember something vaguely that happened on May 25, 2012."

Perkinson wants the arsonist off the streets before the person strikes again.

"If you saw something that night, say something," he said. "That will help so much to get this person who could do it again tomorrow."

If you know anything, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-531-9845.

Do you have any safety tips you'd like to share with others? Tweet or add them on Facebook using #CrackDownOnCrime.

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