Holladay man arrested in Orem house fire days after family pleaded for mental health help

Mar 23, 2023, 11:48 AM | Updated: May 15, 2023, 1:59 pm

OREM, Utah — A Holladay man has been arrested and accused of setting an Orem house on fire with people still inside.

No one was injured in the incident. Daniel Richard Johnson, 41, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of two counts of attempted murder and aggravated arson.

The arrest comes just two days after Johnson’s family sent letters to a judge pleading for court-ordered long-term mental health treatment and expressing concerns that he may hurt himself and be an “unintentional but real danger to others.”

About 4 a.m. Wednesday, emergency crews were called to a house fire at 951 E. 1050 North in Orem. The garage was destroyed and “most of the roof structure was consumed and burnt,” according to a police booking affidavit.

Two people were in the home at the time of the fire.

“The adult male homeowner was sleeping on the main level of the home, and his granddaughter, 18, was in the basement. The granddaughter heard noises and smelled gas, and exited the home through a basement window well. She then alerted and awoke her grandfather on the main level of the home with the help of first responders who had arrived. Both occupants of the home escaped without injury,” the affidavit states.

Two homes damaged after fire breaks out in Orem garage

Investigators from the Orem Fire Department, Unified Fire Authority and the state were called to help determine how the fire started, “and investigators soon confirmed the belief that the call was arson,” according to the affidavit.

Four newer-looking gas cans were found on the lawn and an accelerant was detected in multiple areas around the home, according to investigators.

“Multiple ignition points were visible where it appeared that fires had been started on and around the exterior of the home,” the affidavit states.

After talking with the homeowner, police identified Johnson as a person of interest in the case.

“In recent days, leading up to the date of this arson, Daniel had threatened harm to the homeowner via text messages, and had also talked to the homeowner and others about fires, and fires being started. Fire emojis had also been sent via text. It was also relayed to detectives that Daniel may suffer from some mental illness,” the affidavit states.

Police have not said how Johnson and the homeowner are acquainted with each other.

After additional evidence was collected, Unified police assisted in taking Johnson into custody in Salt Lake County. He was not questioned at that time, “but made utterances, on his own, that he had caused this fire,” the affidavit alleges.

When Orem police took him into their custody and questioned him, they said Johnson admitted purchasing gas cans and gas.

“He stated that he asked for a ride to the incident location and was dropped off, and that he dumped the gas all around the home, and lit it on fire with a lighter. He gave various explanations of why he started the fire. He admitted that he was OK if harm came to the homeowner … but he stated he had tried to wake other females that he believed were inside the home by knocking on the outside windows,” according to the affidavit.

In December, Johnson was convicted of criminal mischief. On Monday, as part of that case, Johnson’s sister and father submitted letters to the judge asking for help for Johnson who they say has a long history of mental illness and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has hallucinations, according to court records.

The sister requested that the judge move his case into mental health court or order Johnson to undergo psychiatric and drug treatment, court records indicate. She says her brother has not been able to get an appointment to see a professional for help because no appointments are available. Both the sister and father pleaded for Johnson to get long-term help rather than the continuous cycle of being arrested and released after a short stay in a pyschiatric ward.

KSL 5 TV Live


This booking photo provided by the Mesa, Ariz., Police Department shows Iren Byers. Byers has been ...

Associated Press

Police: Suspect arrested in 5 separate shootings in Arizona’s Phoenix metro area; 4 dead

Authorities say a suspect has been arrested on connection in connection with five separate shootings in the Phoenix metro area that left four people dead and a woman wounded.

2 days ago

Not long after Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, alcohol of all kinds, opened o...

Zenebou Sylla

Jersey Shore town to crack down on the ‘kind of alcohol’ on beach and boardwalk

Officials in New Jersey are banning the possession of alcohol on a popular beach and boardwalk after city commissioners unanimously passed the “stricter” ordinance.

2 days ago

FILE (St. George Police Department Facebook)...

Cassidy Wixom

2 teens charged with shooting man 6 times in St. George drug robbery, charges say

Two teens were charged Friday with attempted murder and other charges accusing them of shooting a man six times during a robbery in St. George in January.

2 days ago

Jared M. Boyce, 27, of Springville, Utah (Kootenai County Sheriff's Office)...

Michael Houck

Utah Patriot Front member will be sentenced for child pornography charges

A Utah man who was arrested last year for his involvement with a white nationalist group in Idaho has admitted to possessing child pornography.

3 days ago

A member of the Salt Lake City Police Department’s SWAT Team speaks with a firefighter and a SLCP...

Michael Houck

Police take fugitive into custody after SWAT standoff in Sandy

A man wanted for aggravated assault and a domestic violence incident barricaded himself at a Sandy hotel Friday evening.

3 days ago

Gabriela Sifuentes Castilla, the victim of who was shot and killed in October 2021....

Lauren Steinbrecher

Sister of murdered Utah radio show host ‘can finally sleep’ after suspect’s jailing

The sister of a Utah-based Spanish radio show host is sharing her relief that the justice system is moving forward after her sister was murdered more than a year and a half ago. 

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Asian little girl playing arcade game on the computer machines at the shopping mall outlets...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Close up of an offset printing machine during production...

Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.

Holladay man arrested in Orem house fire days after family pleaded for mental health help