Accused Miami Beach arsonist had serious issues with mold

Walter Stopler was being evicted when he set out to burn building

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The first look inside the condo unit where Walter Stopler’s unit in the condominium he is accused of trying to burn down reveals what neighbors say may have been his motivation: years’ worth of toxic black mold. 

"He was very frustrated, very frustrated about the mold in his apartment and how this has been going on for at least since 2016, I think," said Priscilla Suarez, a former condo board member. 

Stopler, 72, is in jail with no bond, accused of a plan to stockpile gasoline, incinerate the condominium.

He had seen doctors because of physical symptoms he related to the mold in his apartment.  Research shows inhaled mold could be connected to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease.

Miami Beach police officers report Stopler talked about wanting to “kill all the Jews” in the Pavilion condominium, and found Nazi-themed materials in his condo, and in a storage closet he rented, dozens of jugs with gasoline, sulfur powder and potassium nitrate. 

Prosecutors are exploring whether the crime was motivated by hate, but neighbors say Stopler was more angry at the chronic mold and maintenance issues, and a condo board that keeps raising fees with little accountability.

Suarez, the former board member, said mold was a chronic issue in many residents’ units, including her own.

"Stopler had said something about not paying his maintenance or special assessment until they fix the mold," said Suarez.

The board had moved to foreclose on Stopler’s unit and evict him.
 

 

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