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A Northern California accused of murdering a woman he'd taken on a date and setting her body ablaze has now been charged in the deaths of two men who died in the resulting wildfire, police said this week.
Victor Serriteno, 29, who is currently jailed for the August 2020 murder of Priscilla Castro, is now charged with arson and the murders of Douglas Mai, 82, and Leon "James" Bone, 64, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said at a Wednesday press conference. Serriteno is alleged to have killed Castro in August after she met him for a date set up online.
"Based on the extensive investigation, we believe Serriteno deliberately set the Markley Fire in an attempt to conceal his crime," the Solano County Sheriff's Office said in a statement, as NBC Bay Area reported.
The Markley Fire later merged with other blazes to become the massive LNU Lightning Complex fire. Mai and Bone both lived in the path of that blaze in unincorporated parts of Solano County.
Castro's family reported her missing to Oakland Police when they couldn't reach her for two days. Her car was later found in Vacaville. Police have not said how Castro died. She had a 9-year-old daughter, her mother, Lisa Phelps Nunez, told CBS12 Sacramento.
“She left us with her beautiful daughter and her smile has left an imprint on our heart, something we will hold dear. We will never forget,” she told the station.
Serriteno was tracked down in Santa Clara on September 11 by Vacaville detectives. He was arrested, and booked into Solano County Jail, charged with killing Castro, according to online jail records. He has pleaded not guilty to Castro's murder. Records show that he waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing several times; he has not appeared in court since January of this year, the Times-Herald reported.
This week, he was formally re-arrested at the jail on two new murder charges and three charges of arson, Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams and Sheriff Tom Ferrara said at the news conference. He was expected to be arraigned today.
The Markley Fire was only recently ruled to be the result of arson. Over the summer, it merged with five other fires in what became known as the LNU Lightning Fire Complex. The blaze ripped across Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and Yolo Counties from August 17 to October 2. It burned 396,624 acres and caused multiple casualties.
Bone was visually impaired and lived alone with no telephone, his neighbors told local station KCRA. He was remembered as a friendly man with a big smile who always waved to passers-by, lifelong area resident Nathan Guerrero told the station.
Mai, a father of two, was a former officer with the Fairfield Police Department. His online obituary states that he was an avid outdoorsman, boater, handyman and had “an unsurpassed dry sense of humor."
“We have all benefited from his depth of character and qualities as a human being. We will miss him deeply always," the obituary says.
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