USA — Riverside County has agreed to pay a $50,000 reward to a witness who helped deliver a notorious convicted arsonist to justice. The anonymous person helped authorities prosecute an out-of-work mechanic for purposely starting a wildfire that killed five firefighters five years ago.
Riverside County supervisors voted unanimously to award the money. They had authorized a $100,000 reward a few days after five U.S. Forest Service firefighters died battling the Esperanza Wildfire near Banning. The 40,000-acre wildfire also destroyed more than 30 homes.
A Riverside County jury convicted Raymond Lee Oyler on multiple counts of arson and murder two years ago. Nobody claimed the reward until last year.
Its not clear why the supervisors reduced the reward to $50,000. An attorney for the witness said his client wished to remain unidentified because she feared for her safety.
During Oylers 2007 trial, his second cousin admitted that she had put in a claim on the reward. She testified that Oyler had boasted about planning to set a “mountain on fire.” A former girlfriend also provided key testimony; she said shed threatened to leave Oyler unless he stopped setting fires.