A Walnut Creek man described by his estranged wife as displaying “erratic behavior” has been jailed in connection with fires set to cars and homes of men that had served as his groomsmen four years before.
Van Buskirk, 33, has been charged with three counts of arson, three counts of possession Molotov cocktails, one count of “arson of an inhabited property” and two counts of child abuse, since one of the homes lit on fire contained two children, according to the Contra Costa Times. He has denied setting the fires and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The incidents began Christmas Eve. Van Buskirk, estranged from the wife he married four years ago, apparently blamed the men that served as his groomsmen.
“It tore me apart because I’d been there for them,” said Van Buskirk in a jailhouse interview with the Times. “They didn’t even reach out to me or care one bit. They didn’t say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ or any of that (expletive). They just dropped me.”
Police found items at each of four scenes that connected the man to the fires. Bottles of Bacardi liquor, described by Van Buskirk’s wife as one of the groomsmen’s favorite drink, were left at the scene of one house fire, along with a dog collar and playing cards with writing on them. The estranged Mrs. Van Buskirk also identified the collar as their dog’s collar ,and the playing cards reminded her of a magician she and her husband saw during their honeymoon.
Joker playing cards were left at the two car fire scenes, according to authorities. At the scene of one fire in the East Bay town of Antioch, a joker card was accompanied by sex lubricant, according to local authorities cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Van Buskirk’s wife cited her husband’s “erratic behavior” and threatening text messages in a restraining order filed on September 15, according to the report.
A list of names with some crossed off was found when Concord police searched Van Buskirk’s residence. Police also reportedly confiscated cut up towels, playing cards, zip ties, gas-scented shirt and gloves and a gas can that authorities believe are connected to the crimes.
Van Buskirk attempted to explain away the gas can and towels in the jailhouse interview. “I want justice,” he said, denying any wrongdoing.
The man’s bail has been set at $2.1 million, the Times notes.
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