Man Accused Of Trying To Burn Down Casper Hotel
An Evansville man is facing two felony arson charges after he allegedly tried to light a Casper hotel on fire earlier this month.
Justice Zerfas is charged with a count each of first- and third-degree arson. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years behind bars.
He has not yet had an opportunity to enter pleas to the charges.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Casper police and firefighters were called to the Quality Inn at roughly 8:15 p.m. on February 5.
The affidavit states a hotel clerk told police Zerfas entered the building's lobby, slammed over a bell cart and began yelling at the clerk. The clerk told police Zerfas yelled something to the effect of, "I'm going to torch this place because you're racist." Zerfas also reportedly yelled something to the effect that he was going to ensure the clerk was in the building because the clerk deserved to burn in hell.
Court documents state the clerk saw Zerfas attempting to light something on fire.
According to the affidavit, hotel staff showed police an area of the hotel where Zerfas had been. There, they found black char marks and the remnants of a long-stick match on the ground.
When police arrested Zerfas several blocks away from the hotel, they reportedly found weather-proof matches on his person and a Zippo lighter fluid container.
Zerfas reportedly told investigators that he went to the Quality Inn because a woman he knows as "Diamond" was staying there and Diamond's boyfriend owed him $260. Court documents state Zerfas told police that he got mad because the hotel clerk would not tell him in which room "Diamond" was staying.
The affidavit states Zerfas told police he lit one of the matches from his pocket and held it to the base of the lobby wall.
"When he was unsuccessful at igniting the building/wall, Zerfas went to the exterior alcove of the building and tried to kick in the back door," the affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, Zerfas attempted to light a discarded salt back on fire. He allegedly threw a lit match in the bag and then threw the bag in a trash can against the building.
Asked what he would have done had the hotel caught on fire, Zerfas reportedly told police he would have waited for them to arrive and tell them what he did. Zerfas also allegedly told police he intended to burn the building down.