New Port Richey, Florida - It's been said that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Detectives from the New Port Richey Police Department tell 10 News that phrase is a perfect way to describe a sad and disturbing case that they are currently working.
An 11-year-old little boy is now in juvenile custody, accused of being a serial arsonist at his tender age. Cops say the child has set up to 13 fires recently in his neighborhood, even to his own home. And, there's the possibility that he's involved in even more arsons.
The child's identity has not yet been released because he is a juvenile.
"It's eerie, he's intelligent and knows what he's doing" said Detective Chris Mellecker from the New Port Richey police department. The child at the heart of this case will spend the next 21 days in juvenile custody.
Detective Mellecker is the lead investigator on the case, and he is the one who got the little boy to open up, talk and confess. "I just sat and talked with him and didn't talk down to him."
Mellecker says that the 11-year-old cried during the interrogation, but the child was also hardened and guarded.
"He had a grin about him when I asked if he enjoyed setting fires, and he said, um, no. Then, he grinned, and it was just the eerieness about it," said Mellecker.
The child's grandmother, Bonnie Yopp, told 10 News, "He's a good boy 90 percent of the time, but he's also troubled. He needs to take his medication. He needs help."
"He told me when he doesn't take his meds, he sets fires," said Mellecker of the child. In fact, the lead detective says that the child uses everything from batteries to witch hazel to lamps to create blazes
The grandmother, who is the boy's guardian, could be facing charges in the future. In addition, the police chief said that the child's living conditions were "unacceptable."
The little boy has certainly had a difficult life.
His father, Richard Pike, is currently in state prison. Cops say Pike is serving a lengthy sentence for dousing the little boy's mother with gas and lighting a match.
"He never talked about his father during our interview," said Detective Mellecker.
The police chief says this isn't the first time they've had to deal with this little boy. "One of our guys had to wrestle a large knife out of his hand, and the boy was baker-acted," said Chief James Steffens.