Man charged with 5 counts of attempted murder following house fire

Joseph Harry Riester. LCSD photo.

A Columbia man has been charged with five counts of attempted murder after deputies said he set a Swansea home on fire with five people inside late Saturday night.

Joseph Harry Riester, 48, entered the victims’ home on Jones Wire Road with a knife shortly before midnight, according to the arrest warrants.

“The victims told investigators Riester threatened to kill one of the occupants with a knife,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “After Riester left the home, the victims then noticed the front door and porch on fire and were able to safely escape.”

When deputies arrived, they found Riester standing in the front yard continuing to make threats.
Riester is also charged with second degree arson, kidnapping and first degree burglary in relation to the incident, according to Koon.

Riester is being held in the Lexington County Detention Center after a judge denied his bond Monday morning.

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