FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A woman with a history of mental illness who once stabbed a man to death is now facing a felony arson charge in connection to a fire set at a local women’s shelter.
Allen County Prosecutors on Friday formally charged 62-year-old Shanda D. Harris with one Level 4 felony count of arson.
Surveillance footage captured Harris walking into the St. Joseph Mission at 3505 Lake Ave. at about 3 a.m. on July 7. Further footage showed Harris using a lighter to set fire to a curtain inside the mission, according to Allen Superior Court documents.
The fire grew in intensity while others were residing in the mission, which provides emergency shelter and resources for single homeless women. Another woman at the shelter, who heard Harris say she was leaving to get cigarettes right before the fire alarm went off, used an extinguisher to put out the blaze, court documents.
Harris made headlines locally 2000 when she was implicated in the death of Robert Hibbs.
According to investigators at the time, Harris stabbed Hibbs to death inside the Thompson Avenue home they shared. Initially charged with murder, Harris was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the killing, mainly due to extensive mental illness.
During a sentencing hearing in which Harris received 20 years in prison, Hibbs’ own mother said that she loved Harris and that prison would not help the mental illness she suffers from, according to an article from The News-Sentinel at the time.
Harris was released from prison in 2011.
On the morning of the fire at the shelter, Fort Wayne Police officers found Harris about a block away. She admitted to starting the fire and was angry because someone had stolen her money, according to court documents.
Police also questioned her about a fire that was set at the Premier Palace, a women’s transitional home, while Harris had stayed there. She denied in court documents to setting that fire, and also said that she wanted help and that she was not taking her medication.
She was then taken to a local hospital on a psychiatric hold.
A warrant has been issued for her arrest.