Arson suspect feared zombie apocalypse and cult mass murder, DA says

Monica Berlin. San Mateo County Jail mugshot.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

Worried about a cult mass murder and a zombie apocalypse, a woman set fire to 1,665 hay bales in Half Moon Bay and then a few days later led police on a 100 mph chase to Atherton, which she live-streamed on Facebook, a prosecutor said yesterday (July 10).

Monica Berlin, 39, of El Granada, set fire to hay bales at the corner of Highway 1 and Seymour Ave. in Half Moon Bay on June 26 at 9:22 p.m., and again on July 3, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Berlin had been a suspect regarding the fires because she was seen taking pictures of the burning hay bales. She went up to a firefighter and began talking about a zombie apocalypse, but the firefighter told Berlin to go home for her own safety, Wagstaffe said.

It was later determined that the fires, both on June 26 and July 3 were a result of arson, since the fire was started at the top of the bales, and an accelerant like gasoline was used.

On July 4, Berlin drove up to a friend of the farmer who owned the bales and said that she started the fire to prevent a cult from committing a massacre, according to the DA. Later that same day, she called the sheriff’s office saying she needed assistance.

Once deputies arrived at her home, Berlin showed the cops her Facebook page and postings about fighting zombies — and doing so with lighter fluid.

She was not arrested at the time because she did not discuss the fire itself.

100 mph chase

On Friday at 6:51 p.m., a deputy at Skyline Boulevard and Highway 92 spotted her grey 2004 Volvo station wagon driving south of Skyline and attempted to pull her over.
She didn’t stop and drove south onto Canada Road and eventually onto southbound I-280, the sheriff said. CHP units joined the pursuit as she turned off 280 and onto Woodside Road, then turned right onto Alameda de las Pulgas.

Speeds during the pursuit went up to 100 mph, Wagstaffe said.

The pursuit ended with Berlin yielding to CHP officers in the 300 block of Fletcher Drive in Atherton, where she was arrested and taken into custody by sheriff’s officers, according to the sheriff.

Berlin live-streamed the chase on Facebook and said she was being pur- sued because she was “covering this criminal conspiracy.”

Remains in jail

Berlin was in court yesterday and pleaded innocent to two counts of arson and fleeing from a police officer. If convicted of those charges, she could face up to four years and eight months in prison.

Berlin is in jail on $100,000 bail and will be in court again on July 19.

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