Happy Halloween!

I love found-footage horror films, warts and all. But more than that, I'm fascinated by genuine found footage.

So on this spookiest of days, I researched one of my favorites:

The Redwood City Arsonist

AFAIK, this thread is the fullest single summation of it.
On August 15, 1989, a family driving in Stockton, CA pulled over their overheating car. The father and son walked to find a phone.

On the side of the road, the son spotted a discarded army jacket. He kicked it, and underneath found a VHS tape.
They took it home.

This is what they saw*.

Before scrolling further, just watch it.

*Far as I can tell, the unedited footage has never been made available. So I pieced/subtitled this together the best I could from various sources.
A house set ablaze, narrated by a sinister voice cackling and taking deep, almost sexual pleasure in narrating the spectacle.

A question that stood out: who was Omar?

Speculation ranged: an accomplice; the construction site head; a figment of the arsonist’s imagination.
After giving the tape to police, an investigator took the son back to the spot where the tape was found. The jacket was still there. Nearby was a wooden pestle, glove, a cassette of metal music and a ceramic skull.

This being the 1989, police believed this indicated Satanism.
As for the footage, the house appeared to be a one-story ranch with two chimneys, beside which was a white trailer — indicative of a construction project.

Beyond that, the fidelity of the tape prevented the discernment of any further clues.
Said the CA Fire Captain:

“I’ve never come across something as eerie as this tape...it frightened me. I thought about it that night as I went to bed.”
After the case was featured on Unsolved Mysteries, police received over 1,000 calls offering tips.

Contact from a man named Ed Tarantino led them to a site 80 miles away from where the tape was found, in Redwood City, CA.
The homeowner, Bill Otherlie, also recognized it.

Said Bill: “Turned up it's my house on the videotape. And then, you heard the voice of this individual, and you go ‘This guy ain’t playing with a full deck.’”
Coincidentally, the local FD had recorded footage of that fire and their extinguishing efforts for training purposes.

The area had been subject to a rash of arsons that year, which some tied to resentment over Silicon Valley-related development.
Investigators compared the footage and confirmed a match.

Comparing landmarks in both videos, they realized that they were actually only about 50 feet away from the arsonist at the time.
As for suspects: another Unsolved Mysteries viewer, Doris Lantz, recognized the fire as one she had witnessed a year before.

She also believed her 17-year-old neighbor, Omar, was the one so referenced in the video.
Police questioned Omar, who named his 19-year-old friend as the perpetrator. Omar claimed he was there, but just silent during the recording.

While police monitored this suspect (who, for reasons I’ll explain later, I’m calling “Frank”), his home garage went up in flames.
Among the items police found inside the garage:

-mutilated animal parts (not gonna include that pic here)
-bloodied knives and blades
-a "cutting table"
-a Freddy Krueger mask and finger-blades
On September 27, 1990, police questioned Frank, describing him as troubled, withdrawn, and crying under questioning.

He confessed.

They also linked him to recent arsons of 11 other structures and 15 grass fires in San Mateo County.
Investigators recovered more home movies made by Frank and Omar.

In addition to this here graffiti, what follows is what they found:
A recording of news clippings pinned to the wall about recent area arsons (presumably, ones that the two had also set.)
Frank dressed up as a satanic vampire, gesticulating wildly.
Frank stabbing and decapitating a mustachioed effigy he refers to as his father.
Frank as a vampire w/a knife, cackling: “I’m on my way to get that fat son of a bitch and I’m gonna kill him. I’m hungry tonight ‘cause tonight is the night where all evil and satanic worshipers come, where Satan rises again and fulfills the destiny of hatred and evil and sin.”
Frank and Omar doing Rambo LARPing shit in a local park.

This last tape supposedly provided motive: the properties they burned were being developed in this park (hence Frank on the tape saying, “This is my domain.”)
Because they were both minors at the time of the fire, neither were charged with crimes. And despite millions in damage, prosecutors sought rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Omar was sent to juvenile detention; Frank, now an adult, to a state mental hospital.
A few questions remain:

How did the tape get from Redwood City to Stockton, 80 miles away, and why was such blatant evidence left there?

Who knows!
Who was “Frank”, and what ultimately happened to him?

First, I’ve referred to him as Frank based on this comment on the case's Unsolved site left by someone claiming to be a relative of Omar.
Another commenter claims to have known Frank, said that he “legit scared [her]” and that he died recently after being hit by a car on the freeway.
Someone later posted this Bay Area news report of a man, also from Redwood City, killed in a freeway hit-and-run.

It seems to line up.

The victim was 45yo when he died on 1/13/17.

Frank was reportedly 17 at the time of the fire (8/15/88) and these articles (UPI and LA Times) dated 9/28 and 9/29/90 say he’s 19. Based on those parameters, if accurate, he also would have been 45 on 1/13/17
Obviously this is circumstantial, and based on forum posts, but it seems to fit. I couldn’t find anything further to confirm, but will update if I do.

If you made it this far: was it worth your time? Should I do more?
Unsolved Mysteries S4E16
Cold Case Files S1E16
KCRA 1992 Local News Report
Clips from unknown Spike TV, Chiller, and other network shows
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