Accused arsonist confessed to friend, police say

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LEWISTON — Randen Schmidt drunkenly confessed to torching an Auburn apartment building only moments after igniting the blaze that left a family homeless, investigators say.

“Now you can add arson to the list,” Schmidt reportedly told a friend as he climbed into a her car outside the home at 22 Webster St. in Auburn.

The 21-year old from Greene later muddied his case with police, according to an affidavit filed Monday with the courts.

“Randen said that he did not start the fire,” Christopher Stanford, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office wrote. “However, [he said] if we were going to charge him with arson, we might as well say that he poured gasoline on the fire and spread it around.”

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On Monday, District Court Judge Valarie Stanfill set Schmidt’s bail at $5,000 cash or $50,000 surety.

Schmidt was already on bail for an earlier criminal trespassing charge when he appeared at a friend’s home early on the morning of April 30, according to the affidavit.

He had been drinking at Club Texas in Auburn, violating his bail conditions.

“He basically violated everything he could have,” an attorney for the state said Monday.

Schmidt then asked his friend for a ride to his former apartment at 22 Webster St.

He and the friend gathered some of his belongings from the apartment. Then, while she waited outside, he allegedly set the fire.

At 3:40 a.m., a neighbor reported the fire in the four-unit building. A family of four, including children age 2 and 6, escaped the only occupied apartment.

Schmidt later told his friend that he felt good “to get even with the slumlord” who had evicted him, according to court papers.

He described to his friend how he had stuffed cardboard boxes into a dresser and ignited them, the affidavit went on.

She didn’t believe him until she saw news coverage of the fire later that day and went to police.

If he makes bail, Schmidt would be prohibited with having any contact with the friend as part of the conditions of his release.

He will probably be unable to raise the needed money, said his attorney, James Howaniec.

If convicted of arson, Schmidt faces up to 30 years in jail. He is slated to appear in court again on July 29.

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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