OKEECHOBEE — A 40-year-old Okeechobee man reportedly set at house on fire in order to stop the evil that happens there.
On April 2 at approximately 6:45 p.m., Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Jones was dispatched to 1648 N.W. 45th Terrace in response to a call regarding a structure fire. The caller told dispatch there was black smoke coming from all the windows.
As Jones approached the house, he saw a man walking eastbound in the middle of the road in the 4200 block of Northwest 18th Street. The man was later identified as Matthew Tate.
When Jones arrived at the residence, he found the front door standing open and flames were coming out the doorway. Thick smoke poured out of the windows.
A witness said he saw a vehicle leave the scene about 30 minutes before he saw flames. He also said he saw Tate leaving the residence on foot.
The homeowner could not be contacted because he is serving 5 years in Jackson Correctional Institute on drug charges.
Tate was located at his mother’s home and reportedly told deputies there had been a lot of “evil shit” at that house, and it needed to be burned. He went on to tell them he used a blow torch to start the fire, and they could find it on his mother’s table. Tate reportedly told them the house was evil, the devil did it, and God told him to rid the residence of evil spirits. In addition, he told Deputy Brian Cross that his last name was holy. Cross’s report notes Tate said, “I want to tell you I did it, and everything goes full circle. If I need to go to jail, so be it.”
Tate’s mother reportedly told deputies she took Tate to the residence, where he had lived for the past two years. When they arrived, he told her the house would not be hurting anyone else because he planned to burn it. She said he told her he was dressed for court, because he was going to burn the house. While she was still there, he set the couch on fire, but she put it out, she said. When she left, the house was not on fire.
Jeff Clare, from the department of financial services, told deputies there were three points of ignition found on the scene.
Tate was charged with arson, and his bond was set at $5,000.
The house where the fire occurred was the scene of a murder in 2016. Mark Deschamps Sr. was convicted in 2019 of the charge of manslaughter in the death of Flavia Munoz. He was also convicted of aggravated battery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, improper exhibition of a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm.
The charges stem from events that occurred in October 2016. Mark Deschamps made a 911 call, in which he said he had just killed everyone, then said he stabbed them. At that time, Deschamps was living in the home of Duane Thomas along with a new girlfriend, 23-year-old Flavia Munoz. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office reports state when Lt. Shane Synder (at that time sergeant) arrived on the scene, he found Flavia Munoz inside the doorway of the home, already deceased, with a knife wound to her chest.
Deschamps is serving 30 years in state prison.