Jana Marie Spires, Suspected Serial Arsonist of Irvine and One Ugly Police Mugshot Model

Jana Marie Spires has been tied by authorities to a half-dozen fires in Irvine over the past 10 months, but missing from the list of charges is suspicion of posing for one ugly police mugshot.

I mean, look at that kisser. Don't bother throwing the book at her, someone already has!

At the 39-year-old's arraignment earlier this week, she pleaded not guilty to five counts of arson of property and one count of arson of a structure or forest--all felonies.

Jana Marie Spires has pleaded not guilty to being Irvine's serial arsonist.
Jana Marie Spires has pleaded not guilty to being Irvine's serial arsonist.
Courtesy of Irvine Police Department

The series of fires police and prosecutors blame on Spires began in July 2010. The first ones were small and set weeks apart, but they alarmed police because they were so close to buildings. Vehicles, the contents of trash cans and items in a garage are among what was set ablaze. Damage has ranged from the minor and cosmetic to total losses. Among the most serious:

  • A Jan. 23 vehicle fire from newspaper stuffed in the side door of a 2009 Mercedes-Benz parked at an Irvine apartment complex and set on fire;
  • A Feb. 14 acrylic U.S. flag set on fire at the side of an Irvine home.
  • A Feb. 14 garage fire at a different Irvine home, where a pack of cigarettes was torched.
  • An April 2 vehicle fire started by paper stuffed between the spare tire and license plate of a 2003 Hummer parked at an Irvine apartment complex. That was soon followed by the torching of a 2003 Infiniti when a burning newspaper was dropped in an open window.

Investigators not only discovered a pattern to the fires, but DNA evidence left at three locations pointed to the arsonist being a woman, according to Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen, who says "strategic surveillance" of certain spots was deployed starting in October.

Just after 8 a.m. last Saturday, police arrested Spires at Springbook Elementary School, which is in the Woodbridge area and where a stack of pizza boxes had been set on fire next to the administration building. Detectives were able to put out the fire before the building sustained any damage.

Spires, who has lived in Irvine for about a year, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon in 2002 and petty theft in 2004. So she has no excuse for not knowing how to pose for a police mugshot.


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