FELL TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Police in Carbondale say they've found a man who went missing after a fire Friday.
Police say Ronald Vancosky was last seen Friday afternoon walking away from his burning home on Hillside Street in Fell Township. Investigators say Vancosky intentionally set the fire.
Officers tracked him down Saturday morning. According to court papers, Vancosky admitted to police that he had been planning the fire for several days. Investigators say he started reading the bible for guidance, killed his pets, then poured gasoline around his home and torched the place.
Police say Vancosky set the place on fire because he believed it was infested with mites.
Vancosky admitted to police that he didn't want his pets to suffer in the fire, so before starting the fire and after attempting to strangle them, investigators said he stabbed at least six of his cats and one of his dogs to death. In all, 14 cats and two dogs were found dead at the scene. Arrest papers say Vancosky walked away from the fire and spent the night in the woods before being captured early Saturday morning near Carbondale.
"That's scary because I hardly saw him. I saw the wife, and we helped her get her dog that was out loose a few times. We would go and help her find it, but other than that we didn't really hear from them. They were very quiet. We didn't really see them. She'd come and go from work, but him, I didn't really know him," said neighbor Karen Ligus.
At the time of the blaze, Ligus's grandson was playing outside nearby. He originally thought it was a brush fire, but as the flames grew higher, he ran inside to tell his family.
"We saw the house was on fire and then we went over here and told my grandma. Kind of scary because it was right by our house in the woods," said Jayden Bilko.
One neighbor tells Newswatch 16 he saw Vancosky walking away from the fire and Vancosky told him to cancel the 911 call.
"It's a very quiet neighborhood, so I was shocked. I was shocked when I saw that he did burn it because people had said that, but you know how rumors start every time something bad like this happens. It was scary," said Ligus.
Police tell Newswatch 16 Vancosky has a history of mental illness and is being evaluated at Geisinger-CMC in Scranton. He'll face arson and animal cruelty charges when he's released.