A former Bay Area research scientist is facing arson charges after allegedly burning down dozens of homes in two Northern California counties, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.
Anthony Rauda, 49, is accused of starting fires at some 75 sites starting from January 2016 through April of this year, according to the Sacramento Bee. Rauda served as a professor of forestry and environmental sciences at UC Berkeley.
Rauda was expected to appear before a judge Thursday. It was not immediately clear if he had hired an attorney.
According to the newspaper, authorities from multiple agencies found “a bizarre typed explanation of the crimes” in a bag Rauda dropped at the California Highway Patrol office on Highway 99 outside of Sacramento, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley.
The package contained a six-page explanation titled “Dread and Driven By Desire” and included 47 cell phone messages to Rauda’s wife and four young children, the newspaper reported.
Authorities began investigating the cases in March after a 1,100-acre wildfire that damaged homes in Placer County was deemed suspicious, the newspaper reported. By June, a dozen other incidents were added to the investigation, the newspaper reported.
Last month, Rauda was convicted of “various arson charges and arson enhancement” in connection with 16 cases, according to the Sacramento Bee. He will remain in custody until his sentencing for those cases on Dec. 19.
The Chronicle reported that Rauda’s criminal history includes prior felony convictions for assaulting someone with a knife and with a “violent instrument.”