HIGH SPRINGS ‒ High Springs resident William Samuel Evans, 41, was arrested on Sunday, March 5, and charged with arson of a dwelling and several drug charges after allegedly setting a house on fire. The house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
A High Springs Police Department (HSPD) officer responded to the fire in the 24000 block of 183rd Street at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning. A woman called 911, saying Evans had called her and told her to “take a look at the house.” The woman told the 911 operator that Evans “may be doing this to torture her.” She said she and Evans had been arguing prior to the fire and that Evans was hiding in the woods near the house that was on fire. Law enforcement attempted to locate Evans in a wooded area north of the fire.
The HSPD officer noted that the house did not have power and had not had power for an extended period of time. He also noted that Evans had a cell phone in his possession and did not call 911 to report the fire.
Evans came out of the woods on his own with his dog and surrendered to officers. Post Miranda, he reportedly said that he had been flicking cigarettes into a tub full of trash “for days” and that today the papers caught on fire. He admitted that he often threw cigarette butts into the tub to see if the paper would burn and then put out the fire with water. He said it wasn’t his intention to start a fire today, but it didn’t matter to him if he started a fire. He reportedly said he fell asleep after he threw the cigarette butt in the tub, woke up to find the bathroom on fire and fled with his dog into the woods but did not call for help.
A search incident to arrest reportedly produced a small amount of marijuana, methamphetamine and a glass pipe.
Evans has been charged with second-degree arson, possession of a controlled substance, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug equipment.
Evans has seven felony convictions, with the most recent in 2015 and has served two state prison sentences and was most recently released on Feb. 1, 2013. He also has 11 misdemeanor convictions, eight traffic violations and one failure to appear citation.
Drug possession charges were filed against Evans in 2021 but later dropped.
Judge Susan Miller-Jones set bail at $212,000 at first appearance on March 6. Evans remains in the Alachua County Jail as of the date of this writing.
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