He Liked Attractive Men — and Burning Down Their Homes

One of America’s most prolific arsonists, 50-year-old Thomas Sweatt liked to follow attractive men he saw to their homes. Once there he would often use a device of his own creation to set fire to the house. His preferred method of starting a fire — a milk jug filled with gasoline and a piece of clothing stuffed in the mouth to act as a wick.

Liam Hall
5 min readMar 17, 2022


Thomas Sweatt — The Washington Post

The Most Prolific Serial Arsonist

From 1985 to 2000 Thomas Sweatt set close to 400 fires, making him one of the most prolific serial arsonists in American history. Driven by some kind of sexual gratification, Thomas would find a man that he found attractive and almost immediately form an obsession.

In 1985, Thomas was walking home after his shift at a Red Robin when he passed a good-looking man and decided to follow him home. The man entered his house while Thomas watched a safe distance away.

He Wanted Gratification

Thomas then drove to a nearby gas station and filled up a 2-liter pop bottle with gas and returned to the handsome man’s house. Dumping the gas under the front door so it seeped inside, he set it on fire.

The man, whose name was Roy Picott, had to escape from the blaze via a second-story window, in his underwear, and run down the street. This excited Thomas; this was part of his plan all along.

Roy had burns on over 60% of his body. His daughter and step-daughter were also severely burned in the fire, as well as his wife Bessie-Mae who did not survive. Roy’s son and step-son were sleeping in the basement and thankfully were unharmed. Roy survived for 2 months before he too succumbed to his injuries.

Another example of Thomas Sweatt’s twisted perversions was his relationship with his (ex)friend Tyrone. Thomas quickly became infatuated with the fit boxer and set fire to his house where Tyrone lived with his Aunt. But, before he set fire to the place he broke in and stole some of Tyrone’s shoes so he could sleep next to them and smell them at his…



Liam Hall

I like to write about crime, among other things. Studying computer security. Join Medium using my referral link https://zeph456.medium.com/membership