Police: Man hiding in hot tub linked to series of strange crimes - KPTV - FOX 12

Police: Man hiding in hot tub linked to series of strange crimes

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William Riley Jr., booking photo William Riley Jr., booking photo
House fire scene, photo from Marion County Sheriff's Office House fire scene, photo from Marion County Sheriff's Office
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

A person of interest in a suspicious Salem house fire was arrested after being found in a stranger's hot tub.

The bizarre series of events began unfolding at around 5:30 a.m. Monday. The Marion County Sheriff's Office was called to assist in the investigation of a fire at a home on the 7200 block of Silverton Road Northeast.

Investigators classified it as a crime scene, calling the fire suspicious. It burned the two-story farm house and unattached garage. The fire was upgraded to two alarms and brought under control after about an hour.

Firefighters said the people who live in the home were on vacation at the time.

Police identified William Riley Jr., 41, as a person of interest in the case. He is also a suspect in a series of other bizarre crimes overnight in the Salem area.

Police were called to the area of the 7500 block of Indigo Street Northeast after a U-Haul slammed into a street sign.

Officers said neighbors reported a man breaking into another truck, taking a machete out of the truck, stealing meat from a freezer at a nearby home and then climbing into a hot tub.

According to court documents, one homeowner called police to report a man hiding in his hot tub. After telling him to leave, he discovered his pool skimmer next to the hot tub broken in three pieces.

Police said Riley was finally caught after climbing back into the truck where he had previously stolen the machete.

None of the homeowners involved in the incidents knew Riley, according to investigators.

Once in custody, Riley damaged the backseat of a patrol car by pushing up on the roof with his feet, according to a probable cause document. The cost to repair the car is estimated at $1,000.

Riley's uncle told Fox 12 that Riley has mental health issues. "He's bipolar and manic depressive and he snaps sometimes," said Richard Ashby. "He's not himself. He's generally a good-hearted person who would do anything for you."

Ashby said Riley trashed Ashby's home in Polk County a few weeks ago.

"He's just in and out of mental hospitals, jails, prisons and my fear is he's either going to hurt himself really bad or end up killing somebody," said Ashby. "He really needs help."

Detectives are asking anyone who saw Riley on Sunday night or Monday morning to call the Marion County Sheriff's office at 503-316-6635.

Riley is facing charges including hit-and-run, trespassing and criminal mischief. He is due back in court on Jan. 16.

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