PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A serial arsonist was sentenced to 34 years in prison Wednesday after he was found guilty of burning several Marion County buildings.
According to the Marion County District Attorney’s Office, Carl Wesley Sandberg had been arrested 29 times before police arrested him in connection to a house fire that killed a family dog.
Investigators say Sandberg began a “crime spree” in 2019, which included burning a church, stealing a gun, and setting multiple fires in homes and businesses. He was also accused of burglarizing the homes he burned and using the victims’ identification and credit cards.
Court documents show that, during that spree, Sandberg had set two houses ablaze with pets that died inside. One family said their dog, Joe, had lived with them since he was a puppy.
“He slept in our room every night, cuddled as close as we would let him. He came on all our hiking, camping, and whitewater rafting adventures. He was our first ‘kid,’” the family said in court. “The agony I still feel about how afraid he was; how he suffered. I feel so much guilt and regret that he was alone. I never got to say goodbye.”
Sandberg had also used the family’s identities, which ruined their credit after the fire – forcing them to live in hotels and rental homes while their home was rebuilt. Officials say their insurance premiums have also increased dramatically.
“The effect these crimes had on the victims was significant. Families lost their mementos, their companion animals, and the sense of security that they once had in their homes,” Deputy District Attorney Michael Thornicroft said. “This is something the victims have not gotten over. It still haunts them. Property can be replaced, but a pet cannot.’
According to the DA’s office, Sandberg’s criminal history includes multiple convictions for forgery, burglary, theft, resisting arrest, assault, DUII, tampering with a witness, attempting to elude a police officer, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and more.
In September 2019, Sandberg was handed a 22-count indictment. However, because he switched lawyers six times since his trial began, he was not sentenced until May and August of 2023.