The Stockton Arsonist

A VHS tape on the side of the road that offered a window into the mind of two teenage arsonists.

Down the Rabbit Hole

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On August 5th, 1989, The Villas, a father-son duo, had to pull over off the freeway in Stockton, California when their car overheated. In order to get any assistance, before the era of mobile phones, they would have to walk to the nearest phone. Now, what some of us would overlook on the side of the highway caught the boys attention. There was a camouflage print jacket on in their path and the boy took it upon himself to investigate, as any curious kid would. Inside the jacket was a VHS tape which ended up making it’s way all the way back home with them. What they watched- father and son- was something between creepy and alarming. The clip they were introduced to was footage of a burning house with narration referencing satanism and the name Omar. We listen to this recording in the audio version above.

Here’s what it says: “ Look at it. Look at it. Look at the fire. This is my domain. My hell. Look at it Omar. This is what I’ve been doing on your weeks vacation. Do you see what I can do ladies and gentlemen? Look at the flames. Listen to the Coyotes yell. Look at it. the fire department is trying to put it out. Take a good look at that and you tell me that I cannot set fires. I gotta go now but remember me. Good night ladies and gentlemen. Your house is next.“

Mortified, the villas quickly turned this over to the police- knowing it was way beyond their armchair expert wheelhouse. Based on the commentary they heard in the clip, the authorities could confidently assume that the one who filmed that video was the arsonist himself. And despite sifting through stacks of fires in California, they didn’t yet have enough information to identify which one they were looking at. An investigator decided to go back to the site where the Villas had taken it to see what else could have been missed. In the jacket that they left behind was a wooden mortar and pestle, a matching glove and a ceramic skull, paraphernalia often seen combined for satanic rituals. Investigators thought that Omar could be a reference to Satanism as well, but I can’t find any cultural references to substantiate that name is connected.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

I write about true crime, mysteries, and anything that’s pulled me down a rabbit hole. Good luck climbing out.