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Police: Leominster Arson Suspect Called 911 Before Fire

By Ken MacLeod, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Ken McLeod Ken MacLeod
Ken MacLeod is a general assignment reporter and substitute anchor a...
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LEOMINSTER (CBS) – When fire tore into the rear of Joyce’s Bakery in the wee hours of Tuesday morning it destroyed the refrigeration system, ruined hundreds of cakes and pies, and knocked Bob and Joyce Addonizio out of business for a while.

“I know people have problems,” says a disgusted Bob — who has run this place with his wife for more than two decades. “But I don’t know why he had to take it out on me.”

He’s talking about a man identified by Leominster Police as 24-year-old Joel Valerio, captured on surveillance video at a nearby convenience store hours before the fire asking for a wire hanger.

Why a hanger? Because police say he’d locked himself out of his car at a gas station on North Main Street — prompting a 911 call shortly before 1 a.m.

“I locked my keys in the car,” the caller says.

“I don’t have anybody who can help you,” responds the dispatcher.

“Okay that’s my luck,” sighs the caller.

“We didn’t have anybody who could help him with the lockout,” says Leominster Police Lt. Michael Goldman. “So he hung up the phone.”

Rebuffed by police and fire department policy which calls for helping with locked cars only in an emergency — such as when a child is trapped — Valerio is then captured by surveillance cameras walking around for a couple of hours.

He is seen fishing in a dumpster or two — before strolling over to the rear of the bakery. Roughly 40 minutes later the place erupts in flames.

“Our detective believes he was angry that police and fire wouldn’t help him unlock his car,” says Lt. Goldman. “And so he set a fire because of that.”

Valerio came in voluntarily this morning after Leominster Police posted his surveillance pictures on Facebook — asking folks to ID him. He denies setting the fire — much less committing arson out of anger and frustration over being locked out of his car.

“He has a very vivid recollection of what he did,” says Lt. Goldman, “except for that 45 seconds he went behind the building.”

A frustrated and angry baker is now asking competitors to service his customers — for at least the next month.

“I was born and brought up to respect people and their property,” says baker Addonizio. “But apparently this gentleman doesn’t care about me or my family or anybody else.”

Valerio is not yet under arrest, but police say he’ll be charged tomorrow with felony arson.

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