No bail for alleged serial arsonist

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A suspected serial arsonist was back in North Tonawanda Court Thursday, but this time a judge did not offer Michelle Johnston bail.

The 41-year-old 5th Avenue resident was arrested Wednesday and charged with setting a home on fire on Sunday, setting her own home on fire Wednesday, and filing a false report with police about the fire at her home.

This is on top of the fire-setting rampage Johnston is accused of last month, targeting her neighbors on 5th Street. She had been previously arrested on nine counts of arson, but was released from jail on bail.

Now she’s facing two additional counts of arson, including for allegedly setting the fire at her own home.

During her arraignment Thursday, she didn’t speak. A judge determined Johnston should remain in jail without bail until a felony hearing August 1.

That news comes as a relief to neighbors, who said they were living in fear.

She didn’t speak during what was her first formal arraignment with her lawyer.

Scott Parry, who lives two doors down from Johnston, said, “You can’t imagine what it’s like morning, noon and night, you don’t know who’s house is going to go up in flames and when it’s going to happen.”

In all, Johnston faces 12 felony charges; one is for filing a false police report. Some of those charges are class B felonies, which carry a maximum of 25 years in prison each.

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