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Britt man charged in burning down own house, killing cats

According to the complaint, "When told his house was on fire, (Devin Wayne Hadersbeck) responded, ‘I started it,’ mentioned he was sick of his old lady, and said he decided to ‘light it up.'"

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DULUTH — A Britt man who allegedly set fire to his own home , which killed three cats, on Friday was formally charged.

Devin Wayne Hadersbeck, 51, was charged Tuesday with first-degree arson and three felony counts of animal cruelty.

A St. Louis County sheriff's deputy was responding to a reported house fire at 8633 Donnywood Circle when he passed Hadersbeck, who has a “documented history of mental health issues” and lived at the house on fire, walking along Britt Bypass, according to the complaint filed in State District Court in Virginia.

When the deputy arrived at the house, he saw flames coming out the window of a room Hadersbeck had occupied in past incidents and “F--- U” and “C---” written in fluorescent-green spray paint on a privacy fence and front door, respectively. He also saw footprints leading from the house to the garage and then down the driveway.

The deputy then returned to Hadersbeck, who was still walking along Britt Bypass.

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“When told his house was on fire, (Hadersbeck) responded, ‘I started it,’ mentioned he was sick of his old lady, and said he decided to ‘light it up,’” the complaint said. “(Hadersbeck) said no one was inside, and he let the cats out before leaving the house. (Hadersbeck) was taken into custody.”

Mug of Devin Wayne Hadersbeck
Devin Wayne Hadersbeck

But once the fire was extinguished, a deputy took a video inside the home and found three dead cats, which appeared to have died from smoke inhalation, according to the complaint. The deputy also found additional messages aimed at the woman who lived there written in green spray paint on the walls. A fluorescent-green spray paint can was found near the door.

The complaint said the deputy “observed significant smoke damage throughout the house and significant fire damage in the room he knew (Hadersbeck) to occupy.”

The woman who lived there arrived at the house after firefighters and deputies said they then learned that Hadersbeck and the woman lived together, that the home loan is in the woman’s name and that Hadersbeck is on the home’s title, according to the complaint.

When the woman left for work the day before, Hadersbeck was home “and appeared fine” when she left, the complaint said.

Hadersbeck was arraigned Tuesday morning and his bail was set at $75,000, according to court records. He remains in the St. Louis County Jail as of noon Tuesday.

His next court appearance is scheduled for April 25.

This story was updated at 5:40 p.m. April 19 to correct the day that Devin Wayne Hadersbeck was charged. It was originally posted at 12:44 p.m. April 19. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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