A beer can abandoned at a home that had been burglarized and set afire proved to be the break in a series of burglary-arsons that had stumped Santa Rosa police and Sonoma County sheriff's detectives for months.
The "tall boy" beer can in a paper bag prompted detectives to match surveillance footage with local ex-cons' criminal histories, and that led them to a 49-year-old parolee.
On Tuesday, police arrested Andy Ruben Navarro at the Coffey Meadows Place garage where he was living after finding what they described as a trove of stolen belongings, Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Raasch said.
He was booked into the Sonoma County Jail without bail on suspicion of three counts of residential burglary, three counts of arson, possession of stolen property and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, Raasch said.
Navarro is suspected of ransacking and setting fire to three homes, including the just-remodeled Banyan Place house of Calvin Sanders and his wife, Melissa Haney.
Their home and most of their belongings were destroyed in the May 19 fire, just days before their wedding.
News of the arrest brought up "a lot of anger, a lot of emotions, said Sanders. "It's a good thing, but it's just kind of a lot," said Sanders, reached by phone. "I think we might sleep a bit better."
Detectives brought the couple and two other families to the garage late Tuesday to see if any of their belongings were there, Sanders said.
Although they could only view the items from afar, Sanders said they spotted a box where they kept prized mementos, the "kind of belongings you cannot replace," Sanders said.
"The whole thing was packed with stuff," Sanders said.