There has been an arrest of a suspect, Julita Groszko, in a recent string of fires in my neighborhood. Groszko is a recent University of Chicago college graduate, who repotedly confessed to setting fires mostly to math and science buildings at the University. The possible motives could have been her difficulties in completing her studies and in getting a job after graduation:
Chicago police say 31-year-old Julita Groszko, a former student who graduated last spring has been charged with aggravated arson, aggravated attempted arson, and criminal damage to property. They also say she admitted her role in setting the fires: one on Monday and three on Tuesday. Those were primarily in Math and Science buildings – Groszko’s field of study.
According to officers, witnesses talked about seeing a woman behave erratically in the buildings and gave a pretty good description of her.
On Wednesday a University of Chicago officer who kept his eyes open saw a woman who matched the description and he smelled accelerant as she passed by. When he stopped her, investigators say she had a gasoline can with what appeared to be an accelerant.
As for motive, police say she was stressed out about not finding a job and about the workload that went into her undergraduate chemistry degree.
“She was having a rough time getting through. She actually did end up graduating. Apparently maybe after she graduated she realized that maybe she shouldn’t ’ve had as rough of a time as she had and she took it out on somebody,” Detective Kevin Flanigan of the Chicago Police Department Bomb and Arson Squad said.
Another story on her motive:
Bomb and Arson detective said Kevin Flanigan said Groszko set the fires because she was "upset with the university" in general.
NBC5's Darren Kramer reported that the woman told police she was "overworked" as a student and unable to find a job as a graduate.
"She struggled" with her workload during her time at the university and the act was like getting "revenge" for the university's failure to go easy on her, Flanigan said.
Groszko enrolled in the fall of 1993, and left the university in the spring of 1996, according to Larry Arbeiter, director of communications for the university. She returned in the fall of 2004 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in the spring of 2005, Arbeiter said.
Well, my wife is a Chemistry graduate of the University of Chicago--and it was harder than my being a Poli-Sci student at Yale.
Perhaps it's just as well that I lit the fire in our fireplace last night.