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Former Criminology Professor Accused Of Being 'Particularly Dangerous’ Serial Arsonist

Gary Maynard, a former college professor who taught about criminology and deviance, is accused of setting multiple fires in California.

By Gina Tron
California Wild Fire G

A man who taught about the criminal mind was accused of being a a serial arsonist who set multiple California fires last week.

Phillip Talbert, the acting U.S. attorney, noted in a court filing obtained and published on Friday by the New York Times that Gary Maynard is “particularly dangerous, even among arsonists.”

“Where Maynard went, fires started,” the filing stated. “Not just once, but over and over again.”

Maynard, 47, is currently in jail in Sacramento awaiting a hearing. He was arrested in August and charged by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with setting a blaze in Lassen National Forest. While he has only officially been charged with that one fire, federal prosecutors have accused him of setting more than six fires near the park as well as near or in Shasta Trinity National Forest in the months of July and August.

Maynard was caught after his car got stuck near a fire on Mount Shasta, National Public Radio reports. A boulder partially buried his Kia Soul about 150 yards from the wildfire, which was snuffed out before it could do any extreme damage. A witness claims they saw Maynard arrive in the area just hours before the fire and then leave minutes before smoke became visible.

Investigators photographed his tire tracks at the scene and allegedly matched them to tracks found at another fire, which started less than a day later, according to the Times. After that, investigators put a tracker on his car and began tracking his phone.

Maynard taught in the criminology and criminal justice department at Sonoma State University last year. He focused on sociology of health, deviance, crime as well as environmental sociology, NPR reported. He has a doctorate in sociology.

His former students told the Times that last year Maynard was living out of his car last year while sending them rambling videos as he traveled Northern California and Oregon. In one video, he drove past the aftermath of the Alameda fire — which burned more than 3,200 acres in Oregon last year — and noted, "this looks like it's arson to me."

Maynard has pleaded not guilty to the arson fire he's been charged with. His attorney Christina Sinha has not immediately responded to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.

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