Suspect in adult shop fire got ‘prophecies from God’

A photo of Mitchell Hapner courtesy the Allure Salon Professionals website.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of burning down an adult store to eradicate porn has a history of mental illness that includes receiving “prophecies from God,” according to court records obtained by 24 Hour News 8.

Mitchell Hapner, 41, was arraigned Friday on charges of arson for Wednesday’s fire that burned down Hollywood Nights, which is located at 3307 S. Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo, and fleeing from police after the blaze.

“The Mitch Hapner I know wouldn’t have done something like this,” his attorney, Donald Smith, said before the video arraignment.

At the arraignment, Hapner complained about detectives working on the case. “I’ve been pestered by a lot of detectives and stuff,” he told the judge.

He also complained when the judge ordered mental health evaluation if he’s released on bond.

“I object to that your honor,” he said. “I’m sorry, I’m not the lawyer, but, you know.”

Friday, Hapner’s family sent 24 Hour News 8 a statement that they were saddened, but not surprised, by what he did and that they’d been trying to get him help for years for his mental illness. They wrote about roadblocks and a failed mental health system.

“If he, in fact, did what he’s accused of that would be the only explanation that would make sense in my mind due to my personal experience with him,” said his attorney, who’s known Hapner more than 30 years.

Records obtained by 24 Hour News 8 show court-ordered mental health treatment dating back two years, though none of it refers to issues with pornography.

In January 2013, Hapner told a police officer he had received a “prophecy from God” that his wife had to die in an accident, that it was “God’s will she go to heaven,” because God wanted him to be with another woman. There’s no record anything happened to his wife.

He wrote a rambling letter to the judge, quoting Bible verses, including James 2:17: “Faith, by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”

He was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar manic disorder.

Then, in September 2014, he said he was “acting on God’s word” when he tried backing a car into his father’s house during a domestic dispute.

A judge ordered treatment for 90 days, but records don’t show where he went.

“To the extent that mental health played a role in this is something we’ll be exploring,” his attorney said. “If it turns out he’s not criminally responsible, then we’re going to be asking the court to make that finding.”

Hapner is being held at the Kalamazoo County Jail on a $250,000 bond. He is scheduled back in court March 10 for a hearing to determine if he will stand trial.

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