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Alleged Ghent arsonist to undergo another mental exam; Suffolk prosecutors to handle the case

Ryan Elza allegedly set fire to a home in west Ghent in June of 2021. Elza is a former Norfolk middle school teacher.

NORFOLK, Va. — A former Norfolk teacher accused of arson is undergoing another mental exam.

Last year, a competency hearing found Ryan Elza was fit to stand trial. Police said Elza set fire to a home in west Ghent in June of 2021. The fire damaged several cars and a garage.

Neighbors have told 13News Now that multiple fires had been set in the area going back over a year prior to Elza's arrest.

In addition to undergoing another mental examination for Elza, the Suffolk Commonwealth's Attorney will be handling the case. That's because the Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney reportedly took a campaign donation from a victim.

In a jailhouse interview with 13News Now, Elza professed his innocence.

Norfolk Public Schools confirmed Elza was an English teacher at Lake Taylor Middle School at the time of his arrest.

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