Man charged with 2 felony counts of arson

Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

An Austin man, facing two felony arson charges, made an initial appearance in Mower County District Court Tuesday.

Jesus Manuel Camacho, 45, is facing first degree arson-dwelling and first degree arson-knows person is present in the building charges. He faces up to a maximum of 20 years in prison on both counts and possible fines of $20,000 and $35,000 if convicted.

Jesus Manuel Camacho, 45

According to court complaints, Austin police officers were dispatched to the Days Inn at 7:37 p.m. on Nov. 6, for a fire alarm.

Upon reaching the entrance, heavy smoke was observed in the first and second floor hallways and that the sprinkler system was going off.

Hotel guests had been evacuated to the parking lot.

The night manager told police that a male subject, later identified as Camacho, had come into the hotel earlier, asking to use the telephone. The manager denied the request and Camacho left, but returned a few minutes later asking to use the phone again and was again denied.

The manager thought Camacho had left the hotel, but noticed the defendant coming down the stairs to the main floor and leaving through the front door.

Not long after, the fire alarm was activated along with the sprinkler system.

The Austin Fire Department put down the blaze and the State Fire Marshal was called to investigate.

According to the complaint, later that evening police spoke with a family member who said she had information about the fire and that a sister had mentioned their father had admitted starting the fire and told police that their father was an alcoholic and possibly using drugs again.

On Nov. 8, the complaint states that a detective met with Camacho’s ex-wife, who stated that Camacho showed up at her house the night of the fire asking to speak to a third daughter. Camacho allegedly said something about starting the fire to the daughter, who he thought was being held captive at the Days Inn.

Camacho’s ex-wife told the detective that Camacho was delusional due to mental health issues, along with drug and alcohol use. Camacho was told to leave the house, which he did.

The detective later received video surveillance that showed Camacho entering the Days Inn a little before the fire call.

When questioned, Camacho allegedly told the detective that he has been hearing voices and felt “shocks” in his body. He said that on the night of the fire he heard voices, telling him to start the fire because his daughter was being held captive.

Camacho also indicated that he was also using methamphetamine on the night of the fire.

Camacho’s next court appearance is on Feb. 10, 2022.