Clay County. Sheriff Nabs Unlikely Arson Suspect

We're getting into the mind of an arsonist tonight.

The person accused of setting fire to one of the seven buildings burned in Bellevue is a woman, and that doesn't fit the traditional profile.

39-year-old Connie Milner faces charges in connection to the arson of a home on the 700 block of Betz.

The home once belonged to Milner, but had been foreclosed.

A witness told investigators she had dropped off Milner there the night of the fire because Milner said she wanted to get something out of the barn.

During their investigations, deputies say they found evidence that someone had been mixing something behind the barn.

Witnesses to the other fires told investigators they spotted Milner at those scenes, and now officials are trying to determine if Milner can be linked to those fires.

And though the fires have burnt out, the questions still burn heavily throughout the Bellevue area.  We wanted to investigate the mind of an arsonist - to see how common it is for a woman to be behind an arson.

We found out it's quite rare for a woman like Connie Milner to carry out such a crime.  We visited with the Criminal Justice Department at Midwestern State University - and learned that only 10 percent of all arsons are sparked by a woman.

"We believe she's responsible for more than what she's been charged with, but there's not much I can do about that," says Clay County Sheriff Kenny Lemons.  "I just simply say that she has been charged with one arson and a criminal trespass on a residence that burned a few hours after she left."

Dr. Nathan Moran is the chair of Midwestern State University's Criminal Justice Department, and he says that history shows that Milner hardly fits the profile of an accused serial arsonist.

"Arson is a more predatory type of criminal act," Dr. Moran explains.  "Women do not tend to commit predatory criminal acts as often as men.  That's why you don't see as many women in prison on murder charges, aggravated assault charges, things like these."

But no matter the profile, arsonists frequently set their flames raging with an intense mission of reparations.

"A lot of times - about 40% - it's revenge," adds Dr. Moran.  "Maybe they have a neighbor who slighted them or they feel they've been slighted.  Or maybe it's with county government, city government, federal government, and they burn small buildings down or a large building.

And in Milner's case, that's exactly what the sheriff thinks was the motive behind the attack.

"In this case we believe it was nothing but revenge," says Sheriff Lemons.  "Revenge is certainly one of the reasons people burn other people's property and that's what this case was surrounded by."

Deputies arrested Milner on Tuesday. She is out on $25,000 bail.

Below you can read the full affidavit that charges Milner.

Jonah Kaplan, Newschannel 6