Man charged with lighting sleeping man on fire

Brandon Nathaniel Lyon, 22, faces attempted murder, assault and arson charges accusing him of setting a fire that sent a 54-year-old man to the hospital with third-degree burns, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

Budreau described the case as “a strange one for us” with no clear motive, and no clear connection between Lyon and the 54-year-old burn victim beyond that both men are homeless.

“This is very unusual, very concerning,” Budreau said. “There’s no connection at all between them.”

At about 3:56 a.m. Tuesday, Lyon was allegedly captured on surveillance video using a lighter to set fire to the victim’s blanket in an alley in the 100 block of South Grape Street, according to Budreau and court documents filed by Medford police in Lyon’s case. The video allegedly showed Lyon watching the fire get bigger and walk away eastbound on foot.

The victim used his hands to extinguish the flames, but suffered third-degree burns to his hands and feet. He was taken to Providence Medford Medical Center, and police say he’ll have permanent scaring on his left foot. He remains hospitalized and is in stable condition.

Budreau said “high quality” surveillance video helped police make an arrest. The video allegedly showed a suspect fitting Lyon’s description wearing distinctive clothing that included red, black and white shoes and a large necklace. A photo of the suspect was sent out to Medford patrol officers.

On Wednesday morning, police say they found Lyon sleeping in Hawthorne Park wearing an identical necklace and shoes as those captured in the video.

Lyon allegedly made admissions to police about setting the fire, but stated “he did not know why” he started the fire, according to an affidavit filed by police. Investigators were able to recover the lighter and all clothing in the surveillance video.

Budreau said his department is baffled by a possible motive in the fire.

“To our knowledge this individual doesn’t have a criminal history for lighting fires and fire events,” Budreau said. “It would be hard to explain this one anyway, but this one is definitely stumping us.”

Jackson County Circuit Court records show no prior felony arrests or convictions for Lyon, but several misdemeanor convictions since 2016 primarily related to methamphetamine possession.

Lyon made his initial court appearance Thursday on charges of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree arson and first- and second-degree assault.

At the hearing, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Cromwell set bail at $1 million and set intensive conditions should he be released that include requiring him to be subject to GPS monitoring or regular check-in, not to possess firearms, not to consume alcohol or intoxicants, and not to possess any fire starting instrument “including matches, lighters and butane torches.”

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