A 23-year-old Wolcott man is believed to have gone into hiding in New York after learning he is suspected of setting fires at a pizza shop while angry about an order, authorities said.
Scott Basile, 23, of Wolcott, has been missing since early January, just a couple days after he was last in touch with Waterbury police, who were investigating several reports of arson, attempted arson and criminal mischief at Fratelli’s Pizzeria at 689 Hill Street in the north end of Waterbury.
Staff of Fratelli’s said the fired caused around $25,000 worth of damage.
Waterbury deputy police chief Fernando Spagnolo said they identified Basille as a suspect and obtained a warrant charging him with criminal attempt at arson in the first degree and manufacturing of bombs in connection with an incident on Christmas Day.
"There was a dispute about an order. He was very, very upset about it, apparently, and obviously didn't get over it," Spagnolo said. "It was minor in question. There was a dispute over the order. The order was contaminated with a bolt that had probably fallen out of a dough machine, or something, and he came back to the restaurant and caused quite a stink."
Francisco Avendano, the manager of Fratelli's Pizzeria, said something from the cooler must have gone in the pizza and that it was not intentional.
"I said that didn’t happen on purpose. I guess something got loose in my covers, my cooler covers something," Avendano said
Spagnolo said police had surveillance set up at the business because of all the incidents and Basile showed up on Christmas Day with what police believe is evidence he was about to cause damage.
When Basile saw an officer there, he allegedly ran off and several agencies were called in to pursue him.
At that time, police had not yet identified Basile by name, but said he left behind a 20-pound propane tank that was two-thirds full with a manipulated regulator, along with Molotov cocktails, and investigators were able to identify him through DNA.
Police said they are continuing to investigate six other incidents in December and had been in touch with Basile up through New Year's Eve.
Basile disappeared on Jan. 2. His mother told NBC Connecticut that he told her he was going to the bank, then to visit someone, and would be back, but he never returned. She has not heard from his since.
His family said on Friday they had no idea there was a warrant out for Basile's arrest.
After leaving home, Basile did go to a bank in Cheshire on Jan. 2, and then went to one at a Stop & Shop in Norwich on Jan. 3, where he withdrew the rest of his money. In the days that followed, it appears he was in New York City. His vehicle was spotted more than 20 times and a ticket was issued on Jan. 5 in New York, while Basile was heading back to Connecticut, police said.
On Jan. 7, police found his car was crashed into a utility pole in Stamford.
Police later determined that Basile was not in the car at the time of the crash. He had abandoned it and the person who was behind the wheel was high, nodded off and crashed, police said.
Police found people Basile had been with when they checked his car for DNA and interviews with those people provided more information that made police believe that Basile's disappearance was intentional.
"I believe he did leave the car to not leave a trace. As a matter of fact, we received other information that his cell phone, that he purposely left at home the days leading up to this, because he was paranoid that people were watching him," Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens said.
Basile had tried to sell his phone, but no one would buy it and he also tried to get people to bring him to Brooklyn, New York, police said.
"We don't know if he's still in Brooklyn, New York. He's had a month headstart," Stephens said.
This case will remain a missing person case, according to police, and they hope he is found safe.
Scott Basile is 5-feet-11, weighs 220 pounds and has black hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a dark gray/black hoodie with matching pants.
His family started a Facebook page to help find him.
Police in Wolcott, Waterbury and New York City are now all working on the case.
Anyone with information on Basile’s whereabouts should contact Wolcott police at 203-879-1414.