Tyler woman charged with arson in Pipestone County firePIPESTONE — Charges were filed Tuesday against Tyler woman Becci Joy Alleckson Pratt, 23, who is suspected of intentionally setting a fire in an uninhabited house on the edge of the Pipestone/Lincoln County border.
PIPESTONE — Charges were filed Tuesday against Tyler woman Becci Joy Alleckson Pratt, 23, who is suspected of intentionally setting a fire in an uninhabited house on the edge of the Pipestone/Lincoln County border.
According to the complaint, Pratt is a suspect of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Lake Benton Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) relating to at least seven arson fires in Lincoln County in the past 18 months.
“Law enforcement has found the defendant in proximity to different fires set at different locations during early morning hours in rural Lincoln County and the city of Lake Benton,” the complaint states.
A fire was reported shortly after midnight on Saturday at an older two story house attached to a mobile home by a breezeway.
The property, located less than half a mile west of the intersection of U.S. 75 and the county line, was not being used as a residence.
Upon receiving a report of the fire, the Lake Benton Police Chief and a Lincoln County deputy responded, driving south on U.S. 75.
They did not meet any vehicles on the road between Lake Benton and the burning building, but the police chief continued driving south instead of turning to go to the fire, then turned back.
He allegedly met a vehicle he recognized as belonging to Pratt driving south, so he turned to follow.
The deputy had gone to the fire site and met with the people who had called it in, then began to look around the area.
He allegedly observed a single set of footprints leading from the road through the ditch, then around to the northwest corner of the house, where it appeared as though the fire had started.
The prints then led back to the road, stopping at one point as though the person had turned to look at the house.
The deputy saw the prints appeared to be of a woman’s shoes, noting the general tread detail in the snow.
The police chief stopped Pratt’s car and was joined by a Pipestone County deputy, who spoke with the woman. She allegedly stated she was returning from a friend’s house, but would not name the friend.
She stated she had seen the fire at the trailer a few miles back.
When asked, she would not consent to a search of her trunk, stating she had things in the trunk that could be considered accelerants.
While the fire department battled the blaze, a deputy at the fire scene came to the site where Pratt’s car was pulled over, bringing pictures of the shoe prints in the snow.
Authorities compared the prints to those on the shoes Pratt was wearing and took her into custody based on the matching appearance.
When one officer contacted the state fire marshal, he was told Pratt is a suspect in numerous arsons in a multi-county area.
The sheriff in Pipestone told a deputy to call the BCA, since they had been dealing with similar arson cases involving vacant buildings and Pratt.
During an interview at the law enforcement center, Pratt said she had never been at the vacant house before, and started talking about pending charges in Lyon County involving explosives.
She allegedly said the truth had gotten her into trouble, so she didn’t want to be totally truthful with the deputy.
Pratt said she parks blocks away from people’s homes so she isn’t seen, because she thinks there is a tracking device on her car.
She told the deputy she likes her new job and has jail time hanging over head because of a previous conviction, so she wouldn’t do anything illegal.
She allegedly named off several counties she has dealings with because of statements she made about harming people with a firearm.
She allegedly stated she had admitted to arson seven years ago when she accidentally lit a vacant house on fire, telling the deputy it was just a little fire that got out of hand and burnt down a house and a few outbuildings.
Pratt said the reason she confessed was because the people who owned the property deserved to know that the fire was not personal toward them.
She said there had been half a dozen fires in Lincoln and Lyon Counties, all out in the country, and that the fires had not been in the paper or on the news.
Whenever there is a fire nearby, the sheriff’s office and BCA visit her, she said.
The Tyler cops had seen her come into town this evening, she said, adding that cops should go home early so people can have free run of town instead of being followed by cops.
Authorities have executed two search warrants at her home in the past, she said, and she has been interviewed about several arsons.
The most recent arson, Pratt said, was at a house she and her husband wanted to buy, so they were cleaning and remodeling the home.
She felt she was shorted for not being paid to work on the house.
No accelerant was used, she said, but the house didn’t burn all the way down.
She allegedly said she knows about it because she has insiders that give her the information.
Another arson she talked about was one at Edgewood Bluff, which burned in July 2010.
Accelerant was used, she told the deputy, and the fire burned the building down to the ground because only one fire department could get to it a time.
Pratt allegedly mentioned some barns and an old house that had been lit on fire, and said all of the places were between her house and U.S. 75.
She knows the information because her dad gets the information at a coffee shop and tells her about them, she said.
None of the information she knows has ever been reported in the paper, she stated, but a patrol officer tells a fireman she knows, who tells her.
She refused to name either person because she didn’t want to get them in trouble, she said.
When shown the pictures of the footprints from the scene, Pratt allegedly told the deputy they couldn’t prove the prints were hers because stores make a lot of shoes like hers.
She also said she didn’t think snow would leave an impression like that, and that she could cover her shoes with booties from work.
When asked to be truthful, she allegedly stated, “I keep going back to the fact I have 20 days of stayed jail time and a $10,000 bond with conditions.”
If she gets in trouble, she said, it would set off a chain of events from other charges and she would get sent away for a long time.
Pratt also said withholding information was not the same as lying.
At a later interview, she said telling the truth wouldn’t change anything.
Pratt was charged in February with possessing an explosive device in Lyon County, and is out of jail on $10,000 bail.
Bond was set on her Pipestone County charge Tuesday for $10,000, and an order granting a public defender was filed.