Woman accused of setting fire at her mother's Waukesha apartment

A 29-year-old West Bend woman faces multiple charges for allegedly setting a fire at her mother's apartment building in Waukesha. The accused is Alexandra Steinmetz – and she faces the following criminal counts: 

  • Arson of building
  • First-degree recklessly endangering safety (three counts)

According to the criminal complaint, firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire on W. St. Paul Avenue near Fairview Avenue in Waukesha on Oct. 7, 2021. Multiple people who lived in the apartment building evacuated before firefighters arrived on the scene.

The complaint indicates "the fire started in the area of a rug that is on the enclosed porch in front of the doors that go to the upstairs unit." It was apparent to one officer that "the rug was clearly burned with a towel on top of it," the complaint says. The officer was unable to find any articles that would indicate a cigarette butt or anything else was used to start the fire -- and nobody on the scene had information that would indicate how it occurred.

The next day, on Friday, Oct. 8, detectives met "in regards to approximately seventeen fires that had been set in the Children's Hospital parking lot" in Wauwatosa on Oct. 7 -- the same day as the Waukesha fire. Surveillance cameras "recorded a vehicle being driven by a woman, as being the individual who was setting these fires," the complaint says. A check on the license registration shows it was registered to the defendant, Alexandra Steinmetz and her mother.

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Detectives spoke with the defendant's mother "regarding her vehicle being at the fires that were set in Wauwatosa" -- at Children's Wisconsin. The mother showed law enforcement text messages between her and Steinmetz that were "confrontational."

On Oct. 13, detectives requested a search warrant of Steinmetz's address in West Bend. Prior to executing that search warrant, detectives received information from Wauwatosa police that "they had conducted a search of the defendant's vehicle. He advised that the vehicle had a strong odor of gasoline coming from the interior."

Steinmetz was taken into custody. She was shown photos from Children's Wisconsin and "acknowledged that the vehicle in the photos was hers and that it was her in the photos. She stated that she could not really remember anything else," the complaint says.

At a later date, a detective was alerted that Steinmetz "had made several attempts to contact him and had come to the police department when he was not available." On Oct. 25, the detective got a phone call from Steinmetz. She was inquiring when she could get her cellphone back. During that conversation, the complaint says the "defendant did admit to setting fires at the hospital" and she "also admitted to setting fires at her mother's residence" on W. St. Paul Avenue in Waukesha. When asked how she set the fires, Steinmetz "stated she used a towel and gasoline," the complaint says. The defendant ended by saying "she knew she had done wrong."

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The charges against Steinmetz were filed on Monday, Feb. 7. Online court records indicate a warrant has been issued for her arrest.

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