Mariposa man accused of torching own property and verbally abusing autistic child
Photo: Charles Leslie / Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office
52-year-old Charles Leslie of Mariposa has been arrested on suspicion of arson and felony domestic violence.
Deputies responded to the 5000 block of Alta Vista Road on July 23 to investigate reports of a vegetation fire that had also spread to nearby structures, as well as an individual at the scene who was behaving violently.
The individual, later identified as Leslie, turned out to be the owner of the property and had allegedly started the fire himself.
Authorities say that after staring the fire, he began making death threats against the Cal Fire personnel who responded, to the point that deputies decided to move them to a safer location that would still allow them to monitor the fire while protecting them from potential violence.
At some point, deputies also learned there was a young autistic child in the house with Leslie. At that point the Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team was called to the scene, and reportedly witnessed Leslie viciously berating and demeaning the child while consuming copious amounts of alcohol.
Negotiators began trying to reason with Leslie over the phone, but he would not allow the child to leave. However, about 2 hours later, the child came outside and deputies escorted him to safety.
Finally, after about 3 hours, the SRT unit, patrol deputies, and a K9 entered the home and cornered Leslie upstairs. After a brief struggle with the K9, he was taken into custody. He remains in jail on $500,000 bond.
The rescued child was eventually reunited with his mother, who’d been waiting for him at the Sheriff’s Department headquarters.