WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – A woman is being held in the Polk County Jail after police say she lit multiple fires in an attempt to get revenge on her boyfriend.
Sixty-five-year-old Jane Heslinga is charged with one count of second-degree arson for the incidents that happened early Monday morning. According to a criminal complaint, police were called to a home in the 600 block of 24th St. in West Des Moines a little before 1:00 a.m. on a report of a vehicle fire.
A witness told police he saw Heslinga break out a window of a vehicle and she said she was going to start it on fire – and that’s what she did. Firefighters were able to put out the flames quickly but say the situation was dangerous because there was an LP can within about five feet of the vehicle.
Police say they knocked on the owner’s door but no one answered so they cleared the scene.
Firefighters notified police a short time later that another fire was starting on a nearby trailer and they believed it had also been set intentionally.
Because of the earlier fires, police decided to watch the home and see whether Heslinga would come out and try to start any other fires. Officers say she came out of the home a little bit later and appeared to light the garage on fire.
After checking to make sure no one was inside the garage, police went to the home and took Heslinga into custody. The complaint says she admitted to lighting the fires “to get back at her boyfriend.”
Officials say Heslinga placed first responders and neighbors in danger because the vehicles and other accelerants could have exploded and caused serious injuries.
A preliminary hearing for Heslinga has been scheduled for August 22nd.