MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After police followed a single line of footprints directly to his home, a Minnesota dentist allegedly looked like “a deer in headlights” when officers asked if he knew about his neighbor’s boathouse going up in flames.
John Haag, the founder of Creekview Dental in Woodbury, is charged with one felony count of arson, documents filed in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, show.
According to a criminal complaint, Haag, 55, initially denied knowing anything about the fire on Feb. 2. However, officers noted that he was “very nervous” to the point where “his smile was frowning and quivering.”
When a deputy told him later that he had enough probable cause for a search warrant, Haag admitted to setting his neighbor’s boathouse on fire. “It was me,” he said, according to the criminal complaint. “I started the fire.”
Deputies had followed a line of footprints in the snow from the torched boathouse, on the east side of Bass Lake, to Haag’s home, which is located about a half-mile north in the western Wisconsin community of a New Richmond. When a deputy initially spoke with Haag, he noticed that there were open gasoline containers in his home.
The boathouse’s owner told police that he noticed the fire in the early morning hours and put it out with his wife, using snow, buckets of water and a hose. He said he only called police out of concern for the nearby trees because the boathouse was old and he planned to tear it down over the weekend.
Investigators determined there was nothing in the boathouse that could spark the fire, and noted that it looked as if it’d been doused with gasoline.
The boathouse’s owner told investigators that the local lake association wanted the dilapidated boathouse removed. According to the complaint, Haag told investigators he was part of the lake association.