Police are asking for the public’s assistance to locate a man who might be related to the attempted arson of an occupied home in Middlesex.

On July 16 at about 9:45 a.m., 72-year-old Cynthia Liepmann was in the home at 16 Garand Hill Road she shares with 84-year-old Hugo Liepmann when she heard noise coming from her garage, which is attached to the house.

When she went to check on the noise, she discovered several cardboard boxes and pieces of furniture on fire. Liepmann used a rake to strike the flames and was able to quickly extinguish the fire, resulting in minor soot damage, police said.

Police said someone had entered the garage through a pair of open bay doors and spread accelerant on the floor and other items in the garage before lighting the fire. Neither the Liepmann’s nor neighbors saw any suspicious people or vehicles in the area, which is quite secluded.

Police are now looking for a man who was seen in Montpelier earlier that day.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., a man wearing dark clothing with a dark-colored backpack was seen walking on Terrace Street in Montpelier towards Middlesex and East Hill Road. Terrace Street turns into East Hill Road once in the town of Middlesex.

A few minutes after 10 a.m., the same man was seen walking back towards Montpelier on Terrace Street while the Montpelier Fire Department was responding to the fire on Garand Hill, and was given a ride by a passing motorist. This man was dropped off near the information booth on State Street in Montpelier, near Christ Episcopal Church, between 10:10 and 10:30 a.m.

The person of interest is described as a young white male, wearing dark pants and a baseball hat, with visible tattoos on his left hand and a stud earring — described as glassy and diamond-like — in his left ear.

At this time man is considered a person of interest only. Anyone who knows who he is or how to contact him is asked to contact State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Ambroz of the Vermont State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit at 878-7111 or todd.ambroz@vermont.gov.

The public can also contact the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program hotline at 1-800-32-ARSON (1-800-322-7766). The program will pay up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

This story was updated online after more information was received from state police after press time.

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