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Affidavit: Suspect in Skyline Fire wanted to light himself on fire after breakup with girlfriend

Posted: 4:36 PM, Sep 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-10 20:08:54-04
robert crookston mcgehee_mug_skyline fire.jpg

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. – A man suspected of starting a wildfire near Horsetooth Reservoir last Thursday wanted to light himself on fire after a recent breakup with his girlfriend, documents released Tuesday state.

Robert Crookston McGehee, 34, was arrested several hours after the Skyline Fire broke out near the Skyline Picnic Area at Horsetooh Reservoir on Sept. 5, and was booked into the Larimer County Jail on suspicion of second-degree arson and criminal mischief.

An arrest affidavit in the case revealed McGehee was frustrated about a recent breakup with his girlfriend and had borrowed his mother’s cell phone to text with the woman.

Both were in the reservoir ridge natural area near Horsetooth Reservoir when the suspect apparently became upset after his mother had asked for her phone back. Documents show McGehee threw his mother’s phone out the car, exited the vehicle, and then threw a rock through the passenger’s side rear sliding door window of his mother’s minivan, before picking it up and throwing it again, shattering the back window.

Police said that moments later, McGehee walked along the natural areas to the north east of where he was parked with his mother.

The arrest affidavit states moments later, Larimer County Parks and sheriff’s deputies responded to the area on a report of a brush fire.

The suspect’s mother told responding deputies that McGehee had threatened to kill himself by lighting himself on fire a day prior, arresting documents show.

After authorities contacted McGehee, he admitted to walking to a trail on Reservoir Ridge, taking out a gray BIC lighter and lighting the dry grass on fire “out of rage and resentment,” toward his mother, the affidavit states.

He also said that approximately two minutes after starting the fire, he took off his shirt and tried to extinguish the blaze.

The fire, located on the east side of the reservoir near County Road 23, burned approximately 16.2 acres of a combination of City of Fort Collins, Larimer County and federal and public lands.

Deputies said the estimated damage from the blaze was above $100, costing more than $5,000 in resources to put out the blaze.