Evicted tenant charged with setting apartment ablaze

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A woman who admitted to setting her former apartment on fire after being evicted has been charged.

Leisa Sanders, 55, faces charges of Arson, Burglary and Residential Entry, all felonies, related to a Tuesday incident at a home along Oneida Street.

Leisa Sanders

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Allen Superior Court, Sanders was released Tuesday from the Allen County Jail. When she got out, Sanders went to a home along Oneida Street where her car had been parked. The affidavit said the car had been towed and the locks of an apartment at the home had been changed because she’d been evicted.

Around 4:20 p.m., a fire was reported at the home. Investigators believed two rocks had been thrown through a window of the home, and the fire intentionally set, according to the affidavit. The blaze was contained to the first floor living room, where the rocks were found, and the first floor sustained heavy smoke and fire damage, fire officials told NewsChannel 15 at the scene.

The landlord identified Sanders as the former tenant. Sanders was taken into custody nearby.

In an interview with police, Sanders said she was upset the landlord evicted her while she was in jail even though she paid her rent, the affidavit said. She said she was also mad her car had been towed. Sanders then admitted to throwing a rock through the window, climbing inside and, after realizing someone was living in her apartment and using her belongings, lighting a bag inside the apartment on fire. Sanders said at that point, she left.

Police found the lighter she used on Sanders, the affidavit said.

One of Sanders’ neighbors Andrew Gardiner couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw her house in flames.

“It’s insane,” he said. “I can’t really conjure up any other words to describe it. It’s nuts. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this so close to my place. That’s nuts. I wouldn’t understand being so spiteful to burn down a house just because it’s been rented out since you’ve been absent. That’s just really petty.”

Aurora Dailey, a woman who used to live in this now condemned apartment, came to see the sight for herself.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “I used to live in this apartment not too long ago. It’s crazy to see, especially in this neighborhood. It could have been me living here with my child. The thought of that was pretty scary itself.”

There were three other people who lived in the apartment. The Red Cross is housing them in a hotel, as well as giving them food and clothing.