BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Investigators determined a brush fire near Port St. John in April that endangered a horse rescue and several residential communities was set by a man who intended to defraud his car insurance company, according to a Brevard County Sheriff's Office arrest warrant.
Roger Garrett, 41, of Titusville, was arrested Wednesday morning and booked into the Brevard County Jail on several charges, including fraud and arson.
On April 17, Brevard County firefighters worked quickly to contain a brush fire in the area of Golfview Avenue and Flora Vista Place that quickly grew to cover 300 acres. Sky 6 aerial views showed firetrucks in the neighborhood east of Hidden Acres for Thoroughbreds, or HART. The owner of the horse rescue said flames came within feet of the property.
The aerial video also showed a burned-out vehicle, which detectives later determined to be Garrett's blue Mazda hatchback, according to the arrest warrant.
Neighbors in the area of the fire said they were glad Garrett was charged.
"That could’ve caught that whole brush on fire, and it could have come into the housing behind us and the neighborhood," said neighbor Barbara Young. "Thankfully he is under arrest."
State Road 407 was also temporarily shutdown due to the brush fire and Space Coast Junior/Senior High School students could not be released on time, according to the warrant.
Garrett reported his car stolen the day of the fire and told deputies he saw it last on April 16.
However, when detectives interviewed Garrett on April 18 at his home in Titusville he told them he was struggling financially, and he liked to "hang out with prostitutes." Prior to the detectives' arrival, Garrett said a woman named "Lanna" had just left his home, according to the arrest warrant.
Detectives found social media posts made by the woman, later identified as Alanna Spangler, on Snapchat bragging about burning a blue Mazda for insurance money, according to the report.
Through a witness, Spangler would later say she helped Garrett burn the car for $5,000 in insurance money.
"I didn't mean to burn down the woods. That wasn't supposed to happen. I didn't mean to do that much damage," Spangler said, according to the report.
Videos and photos from Spangler's Snapchat account showed Garrett pushing the vehicle the day of the fire and several photos of the car engulfed in flames. Detectives said the images matched the location where the burned-out car was later found.
Garrett is charged with arson, burning with intent to defraud an insurer, littering, insurance fraud, interfering with school functions and reckless burning of land. A judge set his bail for $43,000 during a first appearance Wednesday.