The man accused of setting a blaze that killed five firefighters last fall is being charged with additional counts linking him to 13 other fires, authorities said Friday.
The amended complaint, which was filed late Wednesday, charges Raymond Lee Oyler with 19 additional counts of arson and using an incendiary device in setting the other fires, district attorney spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt told The Associated Press.
The 36-year-old auto mechanic is expected in court Monday for a preliminary hearing on five counts of first-degree murder, 11 counts of arson and 10 counts of use of an incendiary device in connection to the deadly wildfire and the other blazes that were ignited in the same area.
He is now charged with 22 arsons in addition to the deadly Esperanza Fire and 17 counts of use of an incendiary device.
Oyler was originally charged in a string of fires that began in June, but the amended complaint adds charges for multiple fires in May and June, and one new fire apiece in July and September.
An evidence log obtained by The Associated Press shows investigators recovered pieces of a cigarette-and-matches incendiary device from at least four of the new blazes. The log also shows 62 suspected arsons in the Banning area between May 16 and Oct. 27.
Wyatt said Oyler would likely be arraigned on the new charges before the preliminary hearing begins.
"The investigation doesn't stop once we file charges, it's still ongoing," she said.
Oyler was arrested Oct. 31 after a wind-whipped fire raced through the foothills near Banning, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. He has pleaded not guilty to the original arson and murder charges.
His attorney, Mark McDonald, did not immediately return a phone call Friday.
A sheriff's report obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday said Oyler's cousin told investigators the suspect spent an entire night one week before the deadly blaze "casing the area" for a good arson location.
Oyler's girlfriend also told investigators Oyler wanted to start a fire as "a diversion" so he could get his pit bull out of the Banning Animal Shelter, according to the report.
In an interview Thursday, attorney McDonald said the cousin was not a credible witness because she had a feud with Oyler and his closest relatives. McDonald said Oyler's girlfriend was badgered by investigators and she now denies telling them any of the information in the report.
"She was badgered, just badgered," McDonald told the AP. "They would say 'Didn't you know this?' and 'Didn't you see this?' and they were telling her she could be implicated" in the arson.
What girlfriend, cousin reportedly said
Oyler's cousin, Jill Frame, told investigators that she was at Oyler's house on Oct. 22 when he and his girlfriend began arguing because he hadn't come home the night before, according to the report.
Oyler told his cousin he had slept in his car outside Banning High School because he was searching for a good place to start a fire on a nearby mountain, the report said. Frame also told investigators that Oyler told her he had started several wildfires in the Banning area earlier that day, it said. Investigators noted in their report that three arson wildfires were started on Oct. 22 in the same area.
Oyler's girlfriend, Crystal Breazille, told investigators that Oyler told her about using a cigarette-and-matches device to start fires, although she never saw the devices, the report said.
Breazille also said she knew Oyler had started an arson fire in Moreno Valley several months before and that Oyler collected newspaper clippings about fires, the report said.
In a subsequent visit two days before the start of the deadly fire, Frame said, Oyler asked her for a ride so he could set the mountain on fire, according to another sheriff's report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Firefighters Jason McKay, 27; Jess McLean, 27; Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20; Mark Loutzenhiser, 43; and Pablo Cerda, 23, were overrun by flames on Oct. 26 while protecting a home. McKay, McLean and Hoover-Najera died at the scene. Loutzenhiser died several hours later and Cerda died several days later.