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Charges: Sartell man set fire to home of mother-in-law who had 'hoarding problem'

He has been charged with arson in connection with the 2019 fire.

A 40-year-old man has been charged with setting fire to the home of his cancer-suffering mother-in-law, who he said had a "hoarding problem."

Prosecutors have charged Erin Idzerda, of Sartell, with deliberately setting the fire at the home in the 800 block of 2 1⁄2 Street North, the smoke damage from which was discovered by neighbors on June 14, 2019.

Idzerda had been regularly checking in at the home that was owned by his mother-in-law, but which had been empty since October 2017. The mother-in-law was receiving treatment for cancer at the Mayo Clinic in May 2019, and died a month later.

The fire at her house was determined to have been started in the basement, with investigators finding that a "pile of combustibles" had been intentionally set alight using an open flame.

A neighbor recognized Idzerda as a visitor to the house, and reported to police a suspicious incident involving Idzerda just four days before the fire.

Questioned several times by police in connection with the fire, Idzerda at one point talked about his mother-in-law's "hoarding problem" in the house, with a criminal complaint stating he referred to it as a "big stressor for the family" as they were concerned they wouldn't be able to sell the house, and they'd be responsible for the remaining mortgage balance of $120,000.

During an earlier questioning, Idzerda said he had thought to himself, "I don't want to deal with this" regarding the state of the house, described it as a "pain in the ass," and one point said it "would be better if the house wasn't there."

He initially told police he himself had noticed soot on the window when he was at the house on June 10, but assumed it was just dirt on the window frame. He also "expressed his belief that he could submit an insurance claim for the fire."

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