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Placitas arson suspect: Set fire to home to break spell

A Placitas man told arson detectives he lit his house on fire Christmas Eve, and watched it burn to the ground, because it freed him from the spell of witches.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Sandoval County Magistrate Court, 55-year-old Alex Perez is charged with arson and criminal damage to property.

Fire investigators were called to a structure fire off N.M. 165 in Placitas on Sunday.

When crews arrived, they found the home fully engulfed and spreading to the property next door, according to the complaint. Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputies already had Perez in custody.

During questioning, Perez told investigators he started the fire with a lit candle and some newspaper before leaving the house with his dog.

Investigators say Perez came back shortly after to “watch the fire burn down” his home.

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Perez told investigators that witches “put a spell on him and he wanted them to stop.”

Investigators say Perez also told them the witches wanted his property and he burned down the home “to stop the spell.”

Witnesses told investigators they saw Perez watch the home burn down “without concern.”

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