Kent Perusse, 48, who owns a landscape/lawn maintenance service, was released last week from Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and third-degree burns. Perusse set his rented house on fire on December 14, using gasoline as an accelerant, and suffered severe burns to his lower legs.
He told police he left his female pit bull in his storage room in the burning house, but according to reports, the dead dog was found trapped in the basement.
Perusse claimed he burned the frame house down so that his girlfriend and his daughter would not be able to move in.
Neighbors say Perusse walked down the front stairs of the burning house in his shorts and covered with soot after setting the fire and was standing in front watching it burn when the police arrived. He told officers, “I did it,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. The house was a total loss, with damages estimated at $72,804.
Perusse was brought to Hillsborough County Jail and charged with first-degree arson and animal cruelty. He was then released on $55,000 bail, according to jail records.