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Cops: Dentist-Turned-Arsonist Made a Rookie Mistake

They tracked footprints in the snow from crime scene to suspect's garage
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2019 8:23 AM CST
Dentist John Haag is accused of arson.   (St. Croix County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – If this is how the cops found their suspect in a movie, you'd probably grab the remote and find another movie. Nobody's this obvious, right? But as the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports, apparently somebody is. Police in New Richmond, Wis., say they found their arson suspect by following footprints in the snow—straight from a burned-down boathouse to the garage of a dentist named John Haag. The best part: "The tracks angled every ten feet or so as if the suspect was turning around and checking behind him,” a deputy wrote. When informed of the tracks, Haag "looked as if he were a deer in the headlights," according to the criminal complaint.

Not helping Haag's case: the two portable gas cans by the garage with their nozzles open. Or Haag explaining to a deputy that he walks his dog along a particular route, before the deputy had even told him where the fire had taken place. When deputies told Haag they were going to get a search warrant, they say he confessed, reports KSTP. "It was me, I did it, I started the fire," he told authorities. The fire apparently stemmed from a long-running beef between residents of Bass Lake with the owner of a dilapidated boathouse they wanted taken down. Haag allegedly took matters into his own hands. He faces up to 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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