Cape Coral man arrested for burning down North Fort Myers home

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Robert Earl Harlow – Photo courtesy of Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

A North Fort Myers home burned beyond recognition, and it didn’t happen by accident. An accused arsonist is behind bars four months after the crime was committed. And the family of the victims said he did it over a pickup truck.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Robert Earl Harlow, 67, of Cape Coral Friday for burning down a family’s home in North Fort Myers.

Harlow’s arrest is bringing mixed emotions. The family knew him almost 15 years. For Nely Miller, the wounds of her lost home still hurt.

“It hurts me what he did,” Miller said. “It hurts, but I don’t hate him. I don’t resent him.”

It hurt even more when Miller heard her family friend, Harlow, now faces charges for first-degree arson and more.

“My heart is crying for this,” Miller said.

Miller keeps Harlow’s photo inside her wallet. She believes he didn’t set her on fire with the intention to try and kill her and her brother, but they were inside when he allegedly set their home on fire.

“Maybe he didn’t know we were inside,” Miller said.

Steven Junior Swallows, Miller’s son-in-law, is the man credited with saving with saving Miller’s life. He believes the fire was intentional.

“I saw him with a jug in his hand,” Swallows said. “He lit that jug, and that just shocked me.”

The family said Harlow set the fire over a $600 truck he had given Miller. He wanted it back, but she refused.

“You don’t try to kill someone over a truck. That’s the stupidest thing in the world,” Swallows said. “I’m glad he’s arrested. He deserves to go to jail for what he did.”

Harlow is in jail without bond. His last-known address is in Cape Coral. And his scheduled court trail is in April.

“I can’t believe he did this,” Miller said. “But he’s not right in the head. Destroy my house and my life too.”

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