Jesse Gary, Tom Bravo, Bill Robles (sketches)
Dorothee Burkhart, the mother of suspected serial arsonist Harry Burkhart, appeared in court in Downtown LA on Friday. The hearing was supposed to be about her own legal troubles, but she used it as an opportunity to defend her son.
An extradition hearing for the mother of a 24-year-old German man charged in connection with a string of arson attacks over New Year's weekend was postponed Friday for the second time in a week.
Dorothee Burkhart was charged with 19 counts of fraud in Frankfurt. Friday's proceeding was considered a status hearing in the fraud case, but it was postponed when she refused the offer of a federal public defender and alleged that she had been beaten by jail staff.
It was the investigation involving Dorothee Burkhart that led to her son's arrest Monday. Investigators looking into Dorothee Burkhart's case recognized the man seen in surveillance video released Sunday by arson investigators. The video showed a man walking from an underground parking structure in Hollywood.
Investigators identified that man as Harry Burkhart, who was arrested a day later after a traffic stop initiated by a reserve LA County Sheriff's Deputy. He was charged Wednesday with 37 counts of arson. Bond was set at $2.85 million.
Even though Friday's proceedings were placed on hold, the court hearing was far from uneventful. Dorothee Burkhart used the appearance to defend her son.
"He didn't do this fire," she said. "One little mentally ill child couldn't do this -- it is technically impossible."
Then, she added, "The Nazis have found us. ... We are victims of Nazi persecution."
At that point, the judge broke in, telling the defendant the hearing would be terminated if she did not sit down and stop putting on a "show."
More than 50 fires were set -- mostly vehicle fires that spread to carports and other structures -- between Dec. 30 and early Monday morning. Fires fitting the same profile have not been reported since Harry Burkhart's arrest.
"The investigation of the 52 fires believed connected to this defendant is not over," said District Attorney Steve Cooley. "Appropriate action will be taken as further evidence is presented for our review."
As for Dorothee Burkhart's case, the criminal complaint filed against her states that she allegedly failed to pay a Frankfurt clinic for breast augmentation surgery. She also is accused of bilking renters out of money by failing to return security deposits for apartments.
Federal authorities recognized Harry Burkhart from his appearance at an earlier court hearing in the fraud case. They witnessed an anti-U.S. rant by Harry Burkhart, who was eventually escorted from the courtroom, according to authorities.
German authorities also are interested in Harry Burkhart. Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that he is under investigation there for a house fire near Frankfurt.
It's likely Dorothee Burkhart, who has a listing under "Los Angeles Body Rubs" on the website AdultSearch.com, will be deported back to Germany, legal analyst Lou Shapiro told NBC4. Click here to watch a legal analysis of the cases.