For Immediate Release - January 18, 2011

Haverhill Serial Arsonist Pleads Guilty

Patricia Mandigo, 56, of Haverhill, pleaded guilty this morning in Newburyport Superior Court to six counts of arson, three counts of causing injury to a firefighter, and one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Mandigo admitted that she set numerous fires to two apartment buildings in Haverhill over a three-year period.

Judge Richard Welch sentenced her to 5 ½ - 8 years in state prison. Upon her release she will be on probation for 10 years, and must undergo mental health and anger management counseling. She is also forbidden from having access to any kind of fire starting materials.

Essex Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose told the court that if the case had gone to trial the Commonwealth would have proven that on four different occasions between February 1, 2006 and December 6, 2007, she set four fires at 94 Emerson Street, a 17-unit apartment building where she lived. The December 6 blaze burned the structure to the ground.

She then moved across the street to 99 Emerson Street, where she started a series of fires in that building between May 28 and August 9 of 2009.

Investigators determined that one of the materials used to set the fires was a dish cloth with a rooster on it, and discovered an identical dish cloth in her apartment. When confronted, Mandigo confessed to setting all of the fires.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said, "I want to thank the many agencies and members of the fire investigation team for their determination and teamwork, as well as the Office of Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, for bringing this serial arsonist to justice."