Eaton County Arson: Deceased Teen Suspected of Setting Fires

Conner Berthold, an 18-year-old from Eaton Township who had been struggling with bipolar disorder was reported missing in the evening of Tuesday, October 14th.  A few hours later, in the early hours of the morning, his body was discovered inside a burned out garage near Charlotte. But that’s only the beginning of the story.

According to area officials, Berthold was also a person of interest in a series of arson and destruction of personal property incidents that took place that same night.

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office has said that apparently a series of fires were set, the first being reported just after midnight. It was a pole barn on Long Highway, which is about a mile from Berthold’s home on Ackley Rd.

On the way back to the station they encountered another fire

Firefighters from the Charlotte Fire Department fought the fire and were able to put it out. But while the firefighters were still enroute to the station after the first fire had been dealt with, they encountered another fire.

At about 1:30 am, the Firefighters noticed a garage burning on Ackley Road. And it was as they were in the midst of responding to that second fire that the harried firemen noticed yet another blaze nearby.

This one, in an attached garage located less than a quarter mile away on the same street, completely engulfed the building in flames. Because the Charlotte Fire Department was still engaged in extinguishing the second fire, other fire departments had to respond to the third one.

In what seemed like an unrelated issue, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department also received a series of reports of slashed tires from people nearby.

According to Charlotte Assistant Fire Chief Tyger Fullerton, Berthold’s body was discovered shortly thereafter inside the burned-out garage on Ackley Road, which is where firefighters fought the third consecutive blaze that night. In his possession officers discovered a knife, which they believe was used to slash tires.

According to Berthold’s father, the teen had been struggling with his bipolar disorder. “We had been fighting it the last 10 months.” he explained during a telephone interview.

Although officials haven’t released any details regarding the cause of death, they have said that there is evidence that Berthold had broken into one of the garages that was later burned to the ground, through a side window. The damage done at this property totals about $200,000.

Police say that the investigation is ongoing and, for now, few other details have been made public.

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