Select Page

The Beach Boys album Smile, which remained unreleased for more than 35 years after it was recorded, has become a piece of California lore.  There are many reasons for the long delay in the album’s release, but one of them is that, after hearing the recording of a track inspired by the Great Fire of Chicago, Brian Wilson became paralyzed with fear and unable to continue the project.  Humans’ fear of fire is, to some extent, innate, but nowhere is fire something to fear than in California, and now even more so than in the 1960s. 

This summer, the world watched in horror as wildfires raged in California day after day, consuming mile after mile of wilderness, as well as the human-made structures in their path.  While hostile climate conditions are to blame for most wildfires, approximately ten percent of California wildfires are the result of people setting fires on purpose. 

According to Ed Norskog, a Los Angeles investigator into arson crimes, “the most dangerous criminal in the world” is the arsonist who sets a fire in the California wilderness.  If you are facing criminal charges for arson, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

The Most Dangerous Criminal in the World

Criminologists have speculated about what motivates people to set fires that lead to the destruction of life, property, and the natural environment, and the consensus is that the stereotype of the arsonist is a bored kid who gets a kick out of the sight of fire is far too simplistic.  (Bored kids certainly exist, but they can get their kicks by lighting matches and watching them burn down or by flicking cigarette lighters; they have no need to burn down hundreds of acres of forest.)  Arsonists come from all walks of life, but what they have in common is that all of them are angry and frustrated.

Gary Maynard had plenty of reasons to be frustrated.  The poor working conditions of adjunct professors have been well documented for years, and while the pandemic has been stressful for everyone, educators during the pandemic experienced a unique kind of stress.  Maynard cobbled together a living as an adjunct instructor of criminology at several institutions, and his income was low enough that he qualified for food stamps. 

For months before the fire he set outside Susanville, his students could tell that the cracks were starting to show.  He would conduct online classes from a dark bedroom and rant about his mental health struggles, the stress of caring for his elderly father, his legal dispute with a former landlord, and his obsession with the 1978 Jonestown massacre. 

Investigators tracked the movements of his food stamp card and his phone until the day when he drove out of the parking lot of Lumberjack’s restaurant in Susanville, and out into the wildlands of northeastern California, where he lit a match and started a fire that eventually caused widespread destruction to forest, houses, and businesses.  He faces criminal charges for arson.

Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Charges of Arson

A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for setting a fire in the wilderness or in a populated area.  Your initial consultation is always free, so contact the Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.

Font Resize