Beer cans lead to man's arrest in 2009 Llano County arsons

AMERICAN-STATESMAN, statesman.com
BYLINE Isadora Vail, STAFF,

Llano County, TX

A trail of beer cans eventually led Llano County sheriff's deputies to an arrest in a year-old arson case.

Authorities charged William Harden, 25, on Wednesday after linking DNA taken from several of the 11 fires set Feb. 28 and March 1, 2009, according to an arrest affidavit.

Harden was arrested and charged with drunken driving the night of the fires, when he wrecked his truck on County Road 413, not far from where the fires began, the affidavit said. Beer cans were found at a few of the fires.

Llano County Chief Deputy John Neff said Harden did not give a reason for starting the fires. He said one fire was started a few hundred feet away from a home near County Road 413 and Texas 16.

The affidavit says Harden had binoculars and a police scanner in his truck. It says several Bud Light cans were found at the crash scene, and police noticed he smelled like smoke. Harden told police he was drinking earlier in the day and was standing by a fire, the affidavit says.

Interviews with several people confirmed his story, according to the document.

One of Harden's friends told investigators that Harden said he liked to start fires and once had started one with a cardboard beer carton.

Investigators obtained a warrant for Harden's DNA, which was found on the beer cans and at the scene of the fires.

Harden was released from the Llano County Jail on $5,000 bail, Neff said.

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