A 42-year-old Oakdale man has been charged with setting fire to his houseand killing five of about dozen of cats living there.
Joshua L. Buhl was charged Tuesday in Washington County District Court with first-degree arson and five counts of felony animal cruelty in connection with the blaze late Sunday in the 1100 block of Grenada Avenue.
Buhl remained jailed Thursday in lieu of $100,000 bail. He's scheduled to return to court Feb. 16. Court records do not list an attorney for him.
According to the criminal complaint:
Responding to neighbors' 911 calls, police found Buhl standing outside his house holding a lighter.
"I started the fire," the charges quoted him as saying. He said he felt as if he were under the influence of methamphetamine and drugs might be in his pocket.
Police arrested him once he "began behaving erratically," the charges read.
Firefighters extinguished the flames and said the living room was the primary burn area. They found a gasoline can in the home and said the front door was barricaded shut.
Buhl later told police he started the fire with gasoline and cardboard in order to get the attention of law enforcement. He said he believed computer hackers were out to get him and that a relative had stolen his identity.
He said there were about 12 cats living in the home and that he did not believe they would die in the fire. Several were recovered and turned over to animal control. The five dead animals were found Monday.