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Home / News / Crime / Felon accused of igniting fire that burned homeless man to be arraigned

Felon accused of igniting fire that burned homeless man to be arraigned

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A convicted felon accused of intentionally setting a fire at a Riverside homeless encampment, burning a man whom the defendant was trying to kill, is slated to be arraigned Tuesday.

Joseph Wayne Breyer, 42, of Riverside was arrested last month following an investigation by the Riverside Police Department into the blaze, which occurred just south of Riverside Municipal Airport.

Breyer is charged with attempted murder, arson causing great bodily injury and sentence-enhancing allegations of being a repeat arsonist.

The defendant, who is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, is due to appear before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sean Crandell at the Riverside Hall of Justice on Tuesday morning.

According to the Riverside Police Department, about 7:30 a.m. on April 15, Breyer was in a homeless encampment in the 5700 block of Van Buren Boulevard, near Cypress Avenue, when he allegedly intentionally ignited the fire near a transient sleeping at the location.

The flames burned the victim’s legs before he was able to get up and flee to safety, according to investigators.

Fire crews reached the site within a few minutes and contained the blaze to a confined space within the encampment. No structures were damaged.

Paramedics treated the burn victim, whose identity was not disclosed, after which he was transported to Riverside Community Hospital for additional treatment of moderate injuries, officials said.

The man is still recovering.

Police detectives and municipal arson investigators worked the case together, and less than a week later, Breyer was identified as the alleged arsonist, according to police spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback.

He said that Breyer was taken into custody without incident on Van Buren and interviewed by the investigative team, culminating in his being booked into the downtown jail.

A possible motive for the attack was not disclosed.

According to court records, Breyer has prior convictions for arson resulting in property damage, felony vandalism and possession of controlled substances. Records show he has been charged multiple times with parole or probation violations over the last decade, but the charges have consistently been dismissed.

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