Woman Sets Fire To Yoga Studio, Smiles in Mugshot

A Dallas woman, arrested last Saturday, made headlines this week after giving a winning smile in her mugshot photo, yet her charge of felony arson and resisting arrest is anything but happy. Why would a seemingly cheerful 41-year-old do such a thing?

USA Today reports that Nancy Duarte, better known as Suzanne, was a long-time customer of the America Power Yoga studio, located off of Dallas’ E Mockingbird Lane. She states she went to yoga sessions to control her anger, but alleged flirting and sexual harassment by two of the studio’s male employees made Duarte see red. She decided to take the law into her own hands and set fire to a place ironically meant to control her massive temper.

“I thought it was going to make me happy … to burn the place that had brought me so much pain and suffering.”

Around 10:30 a.m. last Saturday morning, Duarte made her way to the yoga studio with gasoline, a baseball bat, and matches in hand, and attempted to burn it to the ground. According to a customer at a comedy show, located below the 2nd-floor yoga studio, Duarte kept lighting and tossing matches as she tried to get a fire going.

Although she succeeded in setting the studio on fire, the Dallas Fire Department quickly contained it. Luckily, the studio was empty when Duarte went on her arson attack, but hundreds of people in nearby establishments were evacuated. No one was injured.

Another nearby witness, Phineas Bennett-Lovari, said that Duarte screamed obscenities while trying to set the studio on fire, without a care if anyone heard her or not.

“I’m going to burn this [expletive] down. I don’t care if I go to jail.”

Duarte later stated that although she didn’t intend to physically hurt anyone, she was tired of two employees harassing her, and regrets that the entire studio didn’t burn down.

“One of them kept hitting on me and kept trying to make me the girlfriend on the side.”

The arson episode comes a little over a month after someone fired off gunshots into the studio on February 6. Studio director Stephanie Denton Quigley said no one was injured in the shooting, and the Dallas police haven’t confirmed whether Duarte is a suspect. Duarte denies even knowing about it, much less participating in firing shots.

Nancy Duarte

Shortly after the arson incident on Saturday, police arrived with guns drawn to an aggressive Duarte, who refused to surrender. Yet, after a quick dose of pepper spray, she was handcuffed and placed into the police cruiser. Duarte was allegedly erratic and angry while being handcuffed.

Unexpectedly, the heated Yoga exerciser found her inner zen when it came time for her mugshot. She smiled ear to ear while sporting a green-striped “jail shirt” in a photograph that’s so surprising that it went viral. She explained to police that she is still working on her anger issues, and the huge smile is one of the ways she is coping.

Duarte, charged with one felony count of arson and one third-degree felony count of resisting arrest, was held at the Dallas County jail with a $16,000 bond. If she makes bail, she promises to never try to burn down another yoga studio.

[Photos Courtesy of Dallas Fire and Rescue and CBS 11 News/DFW]