An elusive crime: Here's why many arsons are left unsolved, both nationally and in Baton Rouge

Monday, 13 November 2017, 10:17:57 AM. David Walker was shot and killed Sept. 9 — and four days later, someone set his house on fire. The arsonist remains at large, officials said this week.
David Walker was shot and killed Sept. 9 — and four days later, someone set his house on fire. The arsonist remains at large, officials said this week.  Less than a year earlier, the home next door to Walker's was damaged in another arson fire, officials said. Two men were shot and killed while outside working on that house the same day that Walker, 68, was found dead inside his car across town. Authorities said they have not confirmed any connections between those killings and the house fires, though investigations continue into the circumstances surrounding the incidents — all mysteriously linked to the 2500 block of Thomas H. Delpit Drive.  These circumstances may pose a particularly tangled web, but arson often proves an elusive crime. Investigators say that motives vary widely when determined, and in general, the majority of physical evidence burns to ash before probes can begin. Both those factors make arson cases unusually difficult to solve and prosecute, Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman Mark Miles said. Since the beginning of 2016, only about 17 percent of arsons across Baton Rouge have ended in arrests, according to BRFD records. For those cases, fire investigators often rely on video surveillance or witness accounts. The remaining roughly 83 percent of arson cases during that time remain unsolved. Miles said that although arrest numbers may appear low, clearance rates for arson in Baton Rouge typically reflect national averages, which have hovered around 20...Read more
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