Hoping the Surveillance Video Will Help ID the Perp
Police in Hagen, Germany, are asking the public's help in identifying the arsonists who set fire to seven ambulances parked in the storage lot of a private ambulance company.
The arson took place just after 2 am on October 29 and was captured on video by the surveillance camera set up in the lot. When the FD arrived all seven vehicles were fully involved and subsequently destroyed. The damage amounted to 150,000 euros.
The video shows the arsonist running away following an explosive ignition of two of the ambulances, leading the police to think he may have been injured in the act.
The video runs for 30 minutes and shows the complete scenario from the beginning of the fire-setting until the fire brigade has the blaze fully knocked down.
Thanks to Christian Lewalter for sharing this with us.
"Every chief's worst nightmare is to have a historical structure destroyed in their community, and that is what happened here," Stone said about 9 a.m. Friday from the scene as the fire still smoldered and he awaited the arrival of the state fire marshal's arson investigator and arson dog. "We got the call around 2:11 a.m. and the first unit that got on the scene said it was engulfed in fire. …It was total devastation."
All that remained of the house on Friday morning were its four chimneys, a small portion of its interior brick wall and its unique brick foundation.
In terms of assessing the financial cost of the damage, Stone simply said, "it was priceless."
Before Friday was out, however, the sheriff had arrested seven young men and leveled a variety of charges against them including deliberately setting the fire. A later report from the Times-Picayune tells us:
The seven men in custody in connection with the suspected arson of LeBeau Plantation in Old Arabi apparently were looking for ghosts, according to St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann. The sheriff said the men had been smoking marijuana and drinking in the vacant house.
The men, between the ages of 17 and 31, arrived at the home late Thursday night, likely entering through a gap in the fence around the property that had been cut out by other curious trespassers over the years, according to Col. John Doran, who oversees the Sheriff's Office's criminal enforcement.
"They had been looking for ghosts, trying to summon spirits, beating on the floors," Doran said.
Busted Ghost Busters
Doran said the men appear to have become frustrated when no ghosts materialized. Police believe that in a haze of alcohol and marijuana, one of them decided to burn the place to the ground.
Charles Smith III and his fiancee Tonya Bundick were arrested earlier this year following a massive manhunt that involved dozens of stake-outs as sheriff deputies and State Police bore down to stop the wave of arsons occurring nightly throughout the area. They were finally caught in the act on April 1.
WAVY-TV filed this video report Thursday night:
The duet have been implicated in at least 75 arsons. Tonya Bundick's trial has been postponed following the judge's granting permission to her lawyers to quit the case. Her trial has also been granted a change of venue and will be held in Virginia Beach.
To review the Firegeezer reports on the arson blitz and the manhunt, click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
When firefighters arrived at the sprinklered building they found heavy smoke obscuring three separate fire that were burning is store product aisles. Once all the fires had been located, they were handily extinguished but smoke and water from the sprinklers raised the damage costs considerably.
Several surveillance photos taken in the store and just outside showed three juveniles leaving at about the same time and the police broadcast the images on tv. Several people were able to identify the one child who was subsequently arrested.
KSAZ-TV filed this video report on the outcome:
The store employees were able to recover and get the grocery re-opened in two days.
THE NOW-FORMER FIRE CHIEF of Babbitt, Minnesota, has been arrested and charged by Federal authorities with setting fires in the Superior National Forest as well as attempting to burn down a resort lodge, all while he was fire chief.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting:
Ryan Scharber resigned as fire chief last December, about the time city officials were told a federal investigation was underway, said Mitch Brunfelt, Babbitt city attorney.
Scharber is charged with two counts of setting fires in the Superior National Forest on Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 11 in 2011 and on April 29 and Sept. 10 in 2012, according to federal charges filed Oct. 11 that were made public Tuesday.
All the fires occurred just outside Babbitt city limits. According to one law enforcement official, the fires were all relatively small: 5 acres or fewer. The charges say they involved timber, underbrush and grass.
Scharber also is charged with one count of attempted arson at Mattila’s Birch Lake Resort in Babbitt on or about Dec. 3, 2011.
Scharber was appointed fire chief by the City Council in January 2008. He resigned on Dec. 26, 2012, in the midst of the investigation.
Read the full story with more details on the arson in the Star-Tribune HERE.
Hat tip: Firefighter Dave
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IN ALBANY COUNTY, NEW YORK, a former-assistant fire chief of a volunteer FD in Rensselaer County has been arrested and is being investigated for a long string of arsons that took place over the past eight years. Matthew Woelfersheim, 37, is sitting in the pokey without bail while the sheriff's offices in both counties delve into the list of unsolve arsons.
WNYT-TV is reporting:
After Guilderland Police slapped the cuffs on 37-year old town resident Matthew Woelfersheim, authorities now say they've launched a "large scale" investigation to see if Woelfersheim can be connected to any other unsolved arson cases.
Local authorities say they've been "concerned and confounded" for many years about a fire bug whose been loose in the area. With the arrest of Woelfersheim, they're hoping they've gotten the long overdue break in the case they've needed.
The abandoned garage that burned to the ground on Carman Road in Guilderland on September 30th may not have been a vital building, but it may wind up being a vital clue in a larger arson investigation that's now underway.
Eight police officers arrived at the fully-involved market before the FD and made persistend and heroic attempts to rescue the two, which they succeeded. Both victims were seriously burned and hospitalized. One of them, the 37-yr.-old owner of the Afghan supermarket is a suspect after detectives saw him on a surveillance tape recorded the day before showing him carrying several jerry cans of gasoline from the gas station across the street into the market.
The Daily Telegraph reports:
The Daily Telegraph understands police have obtained footage from a pub next door to the Jomaa Market on Station Street that appears to show the man throwing the matches before the building and an adjoining residential block exploded.
Sniffer dogs that went through the scene yesterday afternoon reportedly detected traces of petrol.
The same man had earlier been seen removing equipment from the store yesterday. He had allegedly bought 10 litres of petrol from a BP service station across the road hours before the fire.
People in the area report that there was a large explosion around 4:15 am that blew out windows throughout the neighborhood and caused an immediate roof collapse over the market.
Ten people were injured in an adjoining apartment building that was heavily damaged.
The grocery was known for its being open every day of the year including Christmas and all other holidays, but it was inexplicably closed yesterday (Monday).
The Sydney Morning Herald has posted a video taken prior to the FD's arrival that shows the rescue efforts of the police. Early in the video one of the victims tries to run through the flames:
The Daily Telegraph has also filed this video report:
Read the full acount in the Morning HeraldHERE. The Daily Telegraph has MORE.
A 35-YR.-OLD WOMAN AND her 11-yr.-old son died Sunday morning when they were set alight inside a closet in their burning apartment. The fire took place in Wissinoming, Pennsylvania, around 9 am and arson investigators quickly determined that the fire was suspicious.
As the building filled with smoke, neighbors started banging on doors when they encountered a man who asked for a fire extinguisher but had another disturbing request.
"He said 'Don't call the police, we'll handle it, we'll handle it.' Evidently that was from the apartment where the bodies were found and he wouldn't let me near the house with a fire extinguisher," said Mary Pommer.
Neighbors called 911 anyway. Firefighters discovered the bodies of the woman and her 11-year-old son in the closet of their first floor apartment.
The victims have been identified as Atlanta Deveny and her son Elijah Rosado. The building's owner stated that Deveny was being evicted from her apartment in another building, but the welfare dept. asked him if he could put them up elsewhere for a few days until they could get relocated. The pair had just moved into the unit about ten days previously.
WCAU-TV is reporting that the pair were found inside the closet beneath a burning mattress. The boy had suffered multiple stab wounds.
A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER IN NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia, has been arrested and charged with setting at least ten small fires during August and September.
Alex Noble, a 21-yr.-old member of the Rural Fire Service in the Rutherford area was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) and charged with 10 counts of "knowingly causing a fire and being reckless about its spread."
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the Service had zero tolerance for arson and the man had been immediately suspended. He said information provided by the RFS led to the arrest of the man on Tuesday.
'This arrest shows that our investment in new technology such as the Arson Trend Analysis System, our growing team of more than 160 specialist fire investigators and having a NSW RFS officer embedded in the Police Arson Squad is working,' he said.
Any RFS volunteer who started fires represented 'the ultimate betrayal' all members, he said. 'If anyone engages in this kind of criminal activity, we will do everything possible to bring them to the attention of police,' he said.
Noble was held without bail until his appearance in court today where he surprisingly pleaded guilty to all ten charges. But his troubles are far from being over. News reports are suggesting that he may be facing further charges in the next few days.
The Newcastle Herald reported in detail:
Alex Gordon Noble said his motivation for the arson attacks was to gain experience with firefighting and, ultimately, to gain full-time work with Fire and Rescue NSW, police allege.
A statement of police facts tendered in court said Noble, a crane driver, called triple-0 on 17 separate occasions to report the sighting of fires in Wyee on the southern fringes of Lake Macquarie.
His modus operandi was to light a fire, call triple-0 on his way to Wyee fire station, and then wait for a ‘‘fire activation page’’ which would allow him to attend the fire as a firefighter.
At times the RFS would arrive on the scene to find Noble there and already in his FF gear/clothing. Read the full and detailed report of all the fires he admitted to in the HERALD HERE.
Alberto Acevedo, 19, a "firefighter-in-training" with the Eddington Fire Company, and Robert Schaeffer, also 19, have been charged with arson, burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment charges.
Their first offense was on August 20 when they set a fire in a laundry room of an apartment building. However, it was ill-set and only smouldered for about 15 minutes until the building's resident manager smelled the smoke and put the fire out himself before notifying the police.
Hoping to improve on their efforts perhaps, they tried again and set another fire in that same laundry room later that night. That fire took off and lead to the evacuation of the entire apartment building.
Schaeffer was arrested Sept. 20, a day after the second of the two fires, which took place at the Delta Gas Station at 2030 Street Road. Officers arrived on scene and observed heavy smoke coming from the rear of the vacant gas station. Eddington Fire Company Engine 28 and other Bensalem fire companies arrived on scene to extinguish the fire, which was located in a rear storage room, according to a release by the Bensalem police.
While interrogating Schaeffer, Bensalem detectives learned of Acevedo's involvement in both arsons and then arrested him as well.
PhillyBurbs.com has a detailed report on both fires and the arrests HERE.
Both youths are being held in the Bucks County jail in lieu of $75,000 bonds.
A NEW YORK CITY HOTEL SECURITY officer was arrested Friday and arraigned Sunday morning on eight charges of setting fires in two hotels that he was working for from 2009 to 2013.
Mariano Barbosa Jr., 30, allegedly set several trash fires in hotel stairwells, hallways and emergency exits in hopes of discouraging patronage in the hotels' bars and thus making his job easier. Also, following the fires the hotels had to shut down for a few days for inspections and Barbosa was comped a room during the shutdowns in order to stay on the job and he used the time and room to get boozed up.
Mariano Barbosa at his appearance Sunday morning
at Manhattan Criminal Court hears the charges
laid against him. (NY Daily News photo)
The fires were set at the Yotel Hotel, 570 Tenth Ave., and the SoHo Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway, the FDNY said. When he was arrested, Barbosa was working as director of security at the Yotel Hotel, officials said. He had worked previously as a security officer at the SoHo Grand.
Marshals believe Barbosa set the fires to bring negative attention to the hotels and their popular nighttime crowds, so that his own job would be less demanding.
Barbosa is charged with setting fires at the following times and on the following floors of the SoHo Grand:
• Feb 3, 2009, 3:27 a.m., 11th floor;
• Jan. 1, 2010, 2:58 a.m. 4th floor;
• May 8, 2010, 1:46 a.m., 11th floor.
He also allegedly set fires at the Yotel Hotel on the following occasions:
A MATTYDALE, NEW YORK MAN has been charged with arson and second-degree murder following a fire in the house they shared Friday morning.
The call was dispatched shortly before 6 am and the first-in unit found a working fire in the small bungalow. As the firefighters began their attack along with the search-and-rescue, they found the victim Robert Y. Teachout, 83, already dead at the foot of the stairway. Further search found the victim's son Robert K. Teachout, 56, inside a first-floor room that was filled with smoke. They removed him from the house and he was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Before the morning was out, the sheriff''s investigators determined the fire to be "suspicious" and later that day they arrested the younger Teachout, charging him with 2nd-degree arson and 2nd-degree murder.
Robert K. Teachout (the son)
The FD knocked the fire down quickly and stopped the spread. Just as importantly they preserved vital evidence found in the home that aided the investigators in solving the case so efficiently.
It turns out that the son has a long history of mental illness as well as a record of fire-setting over the years. He had reportedly stopped taking his psychotic medications about a year ago and had been acting very irrationally lately.
One of his recent habits had been to rummage through neighbors' trash cans to collect "stuff" and take it home where he accumulated a large hoard of trash and loose items. The water and electricity in the house had been disconnected and the town building inspector had declared the house unfit for habitation.
WSYR-TV posted this video report from the scene:
Read more details on the son's recent, erratic behaviors in the Syracuse Post-StandardHERE.
Read further details of the fire on YNN HERE.
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Firegeezer notes: It isn't often that we get news from Mattydale, N.Y. But when we do, for many people they automatically think of the infamous Mattydale cross-lay hose load and wonder if there is a connection.
The answer is "yes," the Mattydale FD is the birthplace of the well-known hose pack. Three years ago we posted a brief background/history of Chief Eno's invention and even included a photo of the first pumper customized for the hose load. CLICK HERE to read the article and learn the story of the famous Mattydale cross-lay.
DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE, POLICE arrested a Peterborough firefighter Monday and charged him with five counts of arson, two counts of criminal mischief and one count of falsifying physical evidence, all in connection with a series of fires that were all set in the early morning of February 2 of this year.
Durham police said Potter set fires at five buildings that contained apartments housing University of New Hampshire students. One building burned to the ground. Deputy Police Chief Rene Kelley said Potter is not a University of New Hampshire student, but was in town visiting friends the night the fires broke out.
One of the five apartment buildings that Potter
is accused of torching in Feb. 2
On Monday, Peterborough Town Administrator Pam Brenner said town officials were notified of the investigation in mid-February, after Durham police and the State Fire Marshall’s Office identified Potter as a suspect. Potter, who was an on-call firefighter and EMT, was placed on administrative leave by the town on Feb. 13. Brenner said Potter resigned his position with the town on April 1.
Foster's Daily Democrat has more details HERE.
WMUR-TV also has a report plus a video story HERE.
Peterborough Fire Department WEBSITE.
A SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, PENNSYLVANIA, MAN was bound over for trial Tuesday after waiving his right to a hearing on theft charges. Michael Trosper, 54, has been charged with stealing over $600 from his volunteer fire department, the Schuylkill Hose Co.
Police said Trosper, who headed the company's fundraising efforts, admitted taking the money and using it to buy food and gasoline.
The money came from Schuylkill Hose's biweekly 80-20 raffle sales, of which the company would distribute 80 percent of the receipts as prize money and keep the other 20 percent, police said.
Additionally, Trosper made up a story about someone entering his residence and taking the money in order to try to conceal his own thefts, according to police.
Firegeezer notes that story never seems to work.
Hat tip: Ron Y.
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AN ARREST HAS BEEN MADE for the arson of the Albany, Vermont, VFD fire station on August 11 (see the Firegeezer video report HERE).
Elmer James Joerg,45, a volunteer member of the department, has been charged with 2nd-degree arson and reckless endangerment, and is being held in jail in lieu of $250,000 bond and ordered to undergo a sanity evaluation.
WCAX-TV is reporting:
Police say the arsonist used a passcode to access the station's back door. Police say game cameras setup in the station caught Joerg in the act. He later confessed from the hospital after being admitted for an unknown illness. He told police he ripped down the smoke detectors, turned the stove on high, ignited cardboard and tossed the burning paper into one of the fire trucks.
According to court papers, Joerg told police he had frequent urges to set fires and admitted he was dangerous and wouldn't have minded dying in the firehouse arson.
Read the full story with more details and video reports HERE.
THE RESIDENTS OF ALBANY, VERMONT, are understandably upset following an early morning fire Sunday that was set in their volunteer firehouse.
The call came in around 1:30 am Sunday and when the town's volunteers arrived at the station they found it filled with fire and smoke. Unable to get inside to get any firefighting equipment, they expended what fire extinguishers they could grab a hold of while waiting for help from neighboring departments.
Once the fire was knocked down they learned that the only real fire damage was to one of their engines that have been fully involved in the bay. All the other apparatus was smoked up, but is salvageable and the building appears to have had no structural damage from the fire.
Investigation immediately uncovered evidence of arson with the rear door having been forced open and an interior smoke detector had been sabotaged as well. A witness who lives across the street saw a "4-wheeler" racing away from the building with its lights turned off shortly before the fire was discovered.
"It was pretty frustrating when you get here and you can't get to your gear, you can't get to anything you need to fight the fire," said Josh Pilbin, Second Assistant Fire Chief. "We had some fire extinguishers here by the door we used to kind of keep the fire under control as much as we could until the first pumper arrived," said Peters.
Neighboring fire departments from Craftsbury, Irasburg, and Orleans were called in to help.
"Some of the gear has been compromised; some of the hose on engine two has been compromised. A lot of it has to be inspected and looked at before we can use them," said (Albany Fire Chief Donald) Peters.
Crews were able to save two engines and pulled them into the driveway. Peters says those trucks will most likely be able to be used again.
WNNY-TV has a video report from the scene:
All of the surrounding fire departments have aggressively sent help in the way of loaner equipment, and donations of running gear, tools, etc., whatever is needed to get the AVFC back in operation within a couple of days.
A 35-YR.-OLD RESIDENT of a nursing home in northeast China became upset over missing cash amounting to $33 Friday and set a fire in his wing. The blaze killed the arsonist along with 10 elderly patients in the hospice wing of the home. Thirty-two elderly people are residents of the hospice wing and the entire nursing home houses 283 aging people, most of whom are indigent.
The Hailun city government said the blaze was set early Friday in the home's hospice wing by a 45-year-old man who had been sent there three years ago after suffering from thrombosis, and who has no income and no one to care for him.
It said the man Wang Gui had argued Thursday with another resident he suspected of stealing 200 yuan ($33) from him, screaming at staff and smashing windows.
Staff thought that they had calmed him down, but he grew agitated again later in the night before setting the fire. Two other residents were hospitalized for smoke inhalation following the blaze.
Before the day was out, the director and the assistant director of the nursing home were removed from their jobs.
Leaves Four Dead Cars and One Damaged House Behind
A LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, MAN WAS still on the loose Monday two days after his pathetic attempt to firebomb his (girlfriend's?) car left him without wheels of his own and being treated for burns in the hospital.
Police say that the unidentified man apparently decided to settle a domestic dispute by setting his friend's car on fire Saturday. Neighbors reported that he drove up alongside the target vehicle, a PT Cruiser where he lit a flaming device inside his car and threw it into the Cruiser.
While he did successfully set the old Plymouth on fire, he also set the passenger seat of his own car and his clothing on fire as well. Finding himself wearing a suit of flames, he panicked and tried to flee jamming his foot down on nis accelerator.
His flight only lasted a few feet as he plowed into a parked pickup truck driving it into the car parked in front of it. The second car was then run into the side of a house where it not only damaged the wall, but set the house on fire as well.
Soon plenty of help arrived to put out the two car fires and douse down the house while an ambulance took to victim to the hospital to be treated for his burns. We don't know what the police were doing at the time, but they weren't watching the perp very well because after he was treated he bolted from the hospital and as of Monday evening was still on the lamb.
WDRB-TV filed this video report that includes interviews with several eyewitnesses to the debacle:
THE DEADLY BUS FIRE IN XIAMEN, China, Friday evening was caused by a suicide-arsonist, police announced today. (See the Firegeezer report on the fire HERE.)
Detailed investigation of the burned-out bus led police to believe that one of the passengers had set the fire. The presence of gasoline traces on the bus which is powered by diesel led them to suspect the perp. The Associated Press is reporting:
Police identified the suspect as Chen Shuizong after an on-site investigation, interviews and examination of evidence, including DNA, a government notice said. It said Chen was a local resident born in 1954 and that police found a suicide note in his home.
He was unhappy with life and set the fire to vent his anger, the city said. Xiamen's municipal government issued the notice Saturday through state media and a Xiamen police microblog.
In a microblogging account reported to be Chen's, the writer claimed to be destitute and pleaded for an opportunity to live. The last entries were made on Thursday, the day before the fire, when the writer chronicled his frustrated efforts to get a local police station to correct his age so he could be eligible for social security payments.
The arson killed at least 47 passengers and injured another 34. The rush-hour bus had between 80 and 100 people on board when it caught fire.
ITN posted this video report before this morning's police announcement identifying the arsonist:
A Review of Recent Incidents Involving Dollar Stores
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THE CATOOSA, OKLAHOMA, DOLLAR GENERAL Store was gutted along with the pizza shop next door earlier this month. The businesses were located in a strip mall, but firewalls contained the bulk of the fire to the Dollar General and the Goo Ruu Pizza shop.
KWTV provided this raw video of the fire at Dollar General:
The Tulsa Fire Department also responded on mutual aid to Catoosa.
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AN ARSONIST SET A DETROIT grocery store alight on May 30 and the fierce fire spread into the Family Dollar Store next door. WWJ-TV reports:
The smell of smoke thickened the air around Telegraph and Seven Mile near the Glory Supermarket and Family Dollar that caught on fire Thursday morning.
"For our understanding, from the fire department people, they said that someone put some fire in a basket and pushed it towards the store and then lit the whole store," says store manager Marvick Kashat.
Kashat says everybody got out okay including the two stock employees that were inside. No firefighters were injured. He says about thirty employees are going to be without a job until the store is rebuilt.
"It gutted the place. Everything is charred and melted from one end to the other, said Cortez Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Vandevoorde. "There's nothing salvageable."
Vandevoorde said dispatch received the call at 7:39 p.m., and crews were on the scene within four minutes. About 30 personnel responded, including from Cortez, Lewis, Mancos, Dolores and Towaoc. Family Dollar is part of the Cortez Plaza shopping center on East Main Street, behind First National Bank. The two adjacent stores, Bealls and an Osprey Packs warehouse, saw minor smoke damage. Bealls will be closed Wednesday.
The plastic and paper merchandise stocked by Family Dollar, as well as chemicals in household cleaning supplies, made for a "heavy fire load" that allowed flames to spread quickly, Vandevoorde said.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Cortez Police Department in the investigation. They are still analyzing the evidence taken at the scene. Read more on the latest update HERE.
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TWO PEOPLE WERE INJURED from a fire in a Baltimore Family Dollar Store on May 22.
The emergency call was received at 11:38 a.m.
Officials say the two people injured were sent to Shock Trauma after suffering from smoke inhalation and burns. The victims are both adults.
The cause of the fire has been ruled an arson. The fire is still currently under investigation.
Ch. 2 also posted this video report:
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The Dollar Store Update is an occasional feature on Firegeezer. To review previous postings on this topic CLICK HERE.
ROGER DEAN, A SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, registered nurse was arrested just hours after a major nursing home fire in Sydney 18 months ago, in November 2011.
Two fires had been set inside the single-story Quaker Hills Nursing Home, one of them to bedsheets in an unoccupied room and the other in an occupied room.
Dean had just been questioned by New South Wales police the day before at his home in connection with a complaint of stolen drugs from the nursing home. He had been at Quaker Hills for just two months.
Channel Ten ran this informative video report on the day of the fire:
While investigating on the day of the fire, police questioned Dean again and then arrested him on murder charges.
On the day of the fire Dean (above) had been giving interviews
to the press on how he had helped evacuate the helpless patients.
For more background on the fire and Dean's arrest, read the Firegeezer reports from November 2011 HERE and HERE.
At yesterday's court appearance, spectators and relatives of the victims were expecting the opening of a lengthy trial but instead saw and heard Dean plead guilty to 11 counts of murder and 8 counts of causing grievous bodily harm.
The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing to be held this Thursday.
A VOLUNTEER FIRE CHIEF ALONG WITH another volunteer firefighter were arrested Friday in connection with two suspicious fires in Oneida County, New York. The arrests followed within hours after an arson in the town of Vienna.
On Friday, firefighters and state police responded to a report of a suspicious fire at a seasonal residence at 8177 Yager Road, in the town of Vienna. The fire was put out by members of the McConnellsville Fire Department but the house was heavily damaged by the fire, troopers said.
An investigation into the incident revealed that someone was involved in starting the fire, troopers said. As a result of an investigation one man was arrested.
McConnellsville Fire Chief Howard Roache, 35, was charged with felony arson. He's accused of starting the fire, troopers said.
Also arrested that same day was another McConnellsville firefighter James Goold, 54, who has been charged with setting another building alight on February 2. According to the police, Goold admitted setting the earlier fire while he was being questioned about Friday's arson.
The owner of the property in Vienna had been having some problems with vandals at his weekend retreat and had set up a hidden surveillance camera. After Friday's fire the police viewed the tape and saw a man later identified as Roache on the property approx. 30 minutes before the fire was reported.
A recent series of suspicious fires in the area are now being re-examined with a focus on the pair's activities.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department fire investigators charged German Balladares, 56, and Sandra Balladares, 41, of Springfield, Virginia, Friday, April 19, 2013, with intentionally setting a house fire that occurred in the Springfield area in 2008. Both have been charged with Virginia Code 18.2-77, burning or destroying a house or dwelling; and 18.2-80, with intent to defraud an insurance company or other person.
The fire occurred at approximately 12:20 p.m., June 7, 2008, at 7209 Neuman Street. Damage to the single family home was estimated at $75,000.
One firefighter was transported to INOVA Fairfax Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.
The fire marshal did not say what evidence had been obtained that led to the delayed charges.
This Google satellite view of the property shows a completely cleared lot now:
A LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA, VAGRANT is in jail facing attempted murder charges for setting a man on fire Friday afternoon who refused to give him a handout. KABC-TV reported:
The victim was entering a 7-Eleven store on the 5100 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach at about 5:15 p.m. when he was approached by a transient asking for money. The victim said no.
As the 63-year-old victim came out of the store and entered his vehicle, the 37-year-old transient reportedly doused the victim and the inside of his vehicle with a flammable substance and lit it on fire.
Police said the victim was in his Toyota 4-Runner with the windows open when a man walked up and threw flammable liquid inside the vehicle.
Witness Robert Linkroum was in the store when he saw the entire situation unfold. "A man had something in his hand, quickly throws whatever he has in his hand into the open window and the SUV’s interior immediately burst into flames," he said.
A Good Samaritan helped the driver to safety. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition with burns over most of his body.
The 39-year-old suspect was arrested a block away and is in the process of being booked on attempted murder charges. Neighbors said he’s a known transient who frequently hangs out in front of the 7-Eleven.
KCAL-TV filed this video report from the scene:
The Beachcomber online newspaper is reporting:
The 63-year-old victim … suffered third degree burns to his chest and face with his orange T-shirt burned off his body; he was taken to a local hospital by paramedics.
KCBS-TV late Saturday identified the victim as Jerry Arnold Payne, whose fiance happened upon the crime scene afterward and recognized his car. Payne is believed to live a few blocks away on Anaheim Place, often frequented the store and was known to help out the homeless when asked.
Payne is currently being treated at Torrance Memorial Hospital, which specializes in treating burn patients. His condition is described as critical.
Witness Robert Linkroum of Long Beach said that he went into the store to purchase a newspaper and saw the suspect toss something into the car window and it immediately burst into flames, trapping Linkroum and other patrons inside the 7-Eleven as flames engulfed the store’s front entrance. The clerk eventually found a key that allowed them to escape out a back door.
Local attorney Ed Beaulac also witnessed the incident and took a video of the victim lying on the ground after being pulled from the vehicle by good samaritans. Beaulac quickly took his child home, circled back and found the suspect in nearby Park Estates. He monitored the suspect until police took him into custody.
A FIRE IN A PHOENIX, ARIZONA, SUBURBAN strip mall early Wednesday morning was soon classed as "suspicious" after three empty gasoline cans were found in the parking lot in front of the shopping center.
Traffic cones surround one of the gas cans left behind.
The Peoria Fire Department found a beautician's school fully involved just before midnight and the fire spreading through the common attic area of the typically-constructed shopping center.
Fire departments from six communities were dispatched to the fire that destroyed four businesses and damaged about a half-dozen more. The fire was knocked down in 45 minutes and appears to have been well contained by the firefighters.
The roof collapsed over the seat of the fire
early into the operation. (KPHO-TV)
An arson dog was brought in from Gilbert to assist in the investigation and it wasn't long before the fire investigators determined that the gas cans were primary evidence of the arson.
KPHO-TV filed this report on the arson connection:
A HAMILTON, OHIO, BOY CONFESSED TO setting a garage on fire that spread to at least five other structures including two houses in his neighborhood Sunday evening.
The child started off on his 1-boy arson spree around 6:30 pm, but all of the blazes were handled promptly by the fire department. The lad was easily ID'd by neighbors who have recently been observing frequent mischief by him. WKRC-TV relates:
A neighbor said she put out a fire set by the same boy in an alley down the street earlier in the day. "I went and told his grandpa," said Jamie Young of Hamilton. "Not 15 minutes later, this happened."
"We've had trouble with this kid for quite some time. He usually is not this bad, but it's escalating. You can clearly see it's escalating out of control," said Young.
WKRC-TV prepared this video report:
Nobody was injured by the fires, but about 100 area residents were without power for several hours.
WCPO-TV provided this raw video of one of the fires and the following video report:
Major Breakthrough Monday Night
3:30 Press Conference Tuesday
A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN THE four-month arson spree in Accomack County, Virginia, was made Monday night when a police surveillance team camera recorded a woman letting a man out of her car in front of a vacant building. She drove off and then returned in a few minutes and picked him back up just as a fire was starting inside the building.
Moments after they left the scene they were pulled over in a traffic stop and arrested.
This morning they were identified as Charles R. Smith III, 38, who goes by the alias Charlie Applegate, a (former) volunteer firefighter and reportedly a captain in his department, along with his fiancee Tonya Bundick, 40.
See the earlier Firegeezer postings on the arson spree HERE,HERE, and HERE.
Updates: The following are being added as information is being made public at the Virginia State Police press briefing that began shortly after 3:30pm and being relayed by WTKR-TV:
* WTKR-TV reports Tonya Bundick actually 'was involved in more fires than just this one.
* State police have received more than 1,200 tips related to these crimes. "We are confident that Bundick and Smith are responsible for the majority of the fires." –State Police.
* Bundick and Smith have been charged with one count each of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson. State Police expect to file charges in the other arson cases soon.
* Of the 79 arsons, there are a handful of fires that have been set for other motives that are not connected to Smith and Bundick.
* Arrest warrants show that Charlie Smith/Applegate has admitted to a majority of the arsons since November and that Bundick helped him.
* Smith was not a member of any fire department in the county while the arsons were set.
* "This is the beginning of the end. We're shifting now to analysis of evidence" -VSP
Charlie Smith (Applegate) & Tonya Bundick
in happier times. Facebook photo.
Smith’s aunt tells NewsChannel 3 the two live together (in Parksley) with Bundick’s two children from a previous relationship and planned to get married in May.
She says Applegate owns Charlie’s Auto Body off Daugherty Road in Tasley and is a former fire captain with the Tasley fire department. State police say Smith was not a member of any fire department during the times the fires were set.
Several of the fires were set on the same street as the couple’s home.
Bundick's home in Parksley where the couple live
with her two children. (WAVY-TV photo)
Bundick and Smith are both being held in the Accomack County jail with no bond.
WVBT-TV has filed a video of this afternoon's press briefing: