Source says man showed signs of mental illness before setting father on fire

11:42 PM, Aug 24, 2010   |    comments
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Pinellas Park, Florida - The man accused of dousing his father with gasoline and then setting him on fire may have shown signs of mental illness long before he was accused of killing his father.

Public records obtained by 10 News show Ronald Harris Junior was accused of lighting three small fires inside the mental health facility filled with patients where he was staying back in September of 2009.

A source familiar with the Harris case, who asked not to be identified, says the former patient should have been locked up in state custody to protect himself and others.

"I saw them escorting Ronald Harris out of the building and he is laughing and joking and I told him it's not funny," said the unnamed source.

"I think he cannot help what he does. I think, as bad as it sounds, he needs to be locked up where he can't harm himself or anyone else."

Charges against Harris were never filed in the September 2009 fire. He now faces a murder charge in the death of his father.

Beau Zimmer, 10 News

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