A Medford man is in the Jackson County Jail on more than $3 million bail after he allegedly set fire to his estranged wife's home, then, hoping to get her arrested, told police that she and another man had assaulted him.
Louis Darnell Walls, 47, of the 400 block of North Phoenix Road, was arrested Sunday and remains in jail on three counts of first-degree arson, and charges of initiating a false report and violating a no-contact order.
Medford police Sgt. Brent Mak said officers were called Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center just after 8 a.m. Sunday for a reported assault. Walls reported that his estranged wife and a male accomplice had assaulted him early that morning.
"He did have an injury, but it was a prior injury that they had nothing to do with," Mak said, adding police did not know that when they first interviewed him.
About 20 minutes later, a fire was reported at an apartment complex in the 2300 block of East Barnett Road. Medford Fire-Rescue sent one engine, as there were reports the small blaze was already starting to wane. It had snuffed out by the time crews arrived on scene.
"It was a pile of trash that was pushed up against the building and lit on fire," Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Gordon Sletmoe said. "It actually kind of fizzled out on its own. It self-extinguished without anybody doing anything."
Fire officials added the fire caused minimal damage to the side of the building. No one was hurt.
Walls' estranged wife lives at the apartment where the fire started. She told investigators that she had a valid restraining order against Walls and suspected him of setting the fire. She and two friends had been in the apartment at the time the fire started, police said. The three counts of arson stem from there being three people in the building, Mak said.
After interviewing Walls again, detectives arrested him on suspicion of setting the fire outside the apartment and violating his no-contact order.
"He tried to start it from the outside," Mak said.
Investigators also allege Walls made the false assault report in hopes his estranged wife would be arrested.
— Ryan Pfeil