Arizona man accused of setting house fire in attempt to kill his mother

An Arizona man is accused of committing multiple felony crimes in connection with a house fire that burned over the weekend.

According to court documents, the suspect, identified as 50-year-old Harry Lee Alicajic, was arrested on June 26. According to investigators, Glendale Police responded to reports of a house fire in a residential neighborhood near 43rd Avenue and Glendale at around 10:11 p.m. on June 25. The homeowner and alleged victim, described by investigators as an "elderly woman," initially told officers that Alicajic was believed to be inside the home, but Alicajic was later found by officer at a plaza east of the home.

"[Alicajic] told the patrol officers he was on the patio smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, when he heard a loud bang noise. He then went to grab his cell phones and when he walked inside the townhouse he saw smoke and the couch was engulfed in flames," read a portion of the court documents. "[Alicajic] told officers he believed his mother was upstairs in the townhome, but did not make an attempt to get her. He later told officers it was because of the flame size."

Suspect had history of disputes with mother, investigators allege


Harry Lee Alicajic

The alleged victim, according to court documents, strictly spoke Bosnian, and in an interview that was later conducted with the help of an interpreter, the victim said Alicajic lived with her full-time, and that over the past several years, she and Alicajic "engaged in arguments and other domestic incidents."

"The victim advised the situation never became physical, however, gradually increased in intensity," read a portion of the court documents. "The victim advised [Alicajic] regularly made threats physically and emotionally against her, [but had not] acted on the physical threats. The victim advised [Alicajic] began to believe in witchcraft, and thought the victim was placing voodoo spells on him."

Investigators said about two to three months prior to the incident, the alleged victim caught Alicajic burning crosses, household items, and religious belief items, and that the suspect had insisted the alleged victim move back to Europe, so that he "did not have to deal with her anymore." On the night of the fire, Alicajic allegedly asked the victim when she was moving back to Europe.

"The victim advised she may go to Europe, or she may not. [Alicajic] responded by telling her if she did not leave in the next week, he would burn this place down. Based on the history, the victim responded with a statement to do it now then," read a portion of the court documents. "The victim advised approximately 10 minutes later she heard a loud bang inside her townhome and saw it catch on fire."

The alleged victim, according to investigators, said she did not believe Alicajic's threats previously.

"She believed [Alicajic] thought she was upstairs in her bedroom, and tried to kill her," read a portion of the court documents. "When the victim saw [Alicajic] for the first time, she told officers his face went pale white as if he was in disbelief she was alive."

Suspect had "significant amount of issues," according to brother

The cause of the fire, according to court documents, is considered to be undetermined, but Glendale Fire investigators noted that the fire started in the front living room.

"The victim's bedroom is immediately above the living room. The only access upstairs to the bedrooms is by means of a single staircase. The staircase access point on the first floor is in the living room," read a portion of the court documents. "This access point is in the opposing corner of any exit point in the residence. Essentially, if someone was upstairs there would had been no avenue of escape from the fire which was started downstairs in the living room."

Alicajic's brother, according to investigators, said there has been a "significant amount of issues" with Alicajic over the past several years.

"[The suspect's brother] advised he would call making abnormal statements, and was fed up with his mother. He wanted to be left alone and would consistently make threats to people, to a point where neighbors obtained injunction against harassment, due to his threats to physically harm them," read a portion of the documents.

Alicajic's brother, according to investigators, said ther was "something not right" with Alicajic.

"[Alicajic's brother] believed [Alicajic] set the townhome on fire to kill his mother," read a portion of the court documents.

Court documents listed a number of text messages the suspect allegedly sent to his brother, including an entry that reads:

Alicajic, according to investigators, asked for an attorney as detectives tried to interview him after he was read his Miranda rights.

Big cash-only bond set for suspect

According to court documents, Alicajic is accused of six counts of felony arson of an occupied structure, 10 counts of felony endangerment, and a count of premeditated first degree attempted murder. Officials argued that Alicajic has a flight risk due to his ties with family members in Bosnia and Croatia. In the end, a judge set a cash-only bond of $1 million for Alicajic. Should he make the cash-only bond, he would be banned from returned to the alleged crime scene, or have contact with the alleged victims.

A preliminary hearing for Alicajic is set to take place on July 6.

Map showing the area where the fire happened