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Couple planning to wed shaken by arson

  • When Melissa Haney, left, and Calvin Sanders returned to their Banyon Place home in Santa Rosa last Saturday night, they found the home burglarized and a fire raging. Calvin managed to rescue their new kitten, now named Smokey.

Just days before their long-planned wedding, a Santa Rosa couple Wednesday stood outside the burned shell of their newly remodeled house, the victims of an arsonist who is burglarizing homes and then setting them on fire.

For Melissa Haney and Calvin Sanders, both 42, the crimes cost them their Banyan Place home.

The overwhelming shock is making it difficult to concentrate on Sunday's wedding, when 130 family members and friends will gather to celebrate the couple's future.

"If you want to steal our stuff, why did you have to light our house on fire?" said Haney, trying to grasp their loss.

"We're just really concerned these people get caught. Somebody is going to get hurt," said Haney.

On Saturday, the couple became the latest victims of a burglar who is suspected of breaking into five homes in the Coffey Park neighborhood since early April.

The last two homes were set on fire by the intruder, a dangerous escalation that worries investigators and neighbors.

A Hopper Avenue house, about four blocks away, sustained major fire damage during an April 20 burglary, police reported Monday.

Detectives are not sure if one or more burglars are responsible for the crime spree, but say all of the break-ins appear to have been done by the same people, citing the proximity of the homes and undisclosed details about the crimes.

Burglary and arson are a rare combination, which is puzzling detectives.


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