HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A 20-year-old man led a group of acquaintances in setting about 40 fires and dared a state investigator to “catch me if you can” in a message he spray-painted on a car, the Maryland fire marshal said Tuesday.
Tyler William Murray of Williamsport was charged with six counts of second-degree arson and one count of malicious destruction of property for fires that damaged several cars and a Boonsboro barn in late March, according to investigators and court records.
Three others were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit second-degree arson. They are Olivia Marie Hannah, 20, of Frederick; Sarah Camille Mathews, 19, of Adamstown; and Morgan Thomas Nield, 20, of Hagerstown.
Hannah and Mathews were also charged with malicious burning. Nield was also charged with arson of a trash container.
None of the defendants nor their lawyers could immediately be reached for comment.
Nobody was hurt in any of the fires, Fire Marshal William E. Barnard said.
He said the defendants are also suspects in dozens of other fires since March 17, including eight in neighboring Frederick County. There might be other arrests, Barnard said.
“We have charged these four individuals because we know from the information that we’ve gleaned that they were involved in setting nearly all of the fires that we’ve identified,” he said.
He said one break in the case came Friday, when two vehicles in the unincorporated community of Halfway, a few miles from Williamsport, were found spray-painted with messages pertaining to the fires. Stenciled in black on a white Toyota Camry were the words, “State Fire Marshal Ernst, catch me if you can,” a reference to local Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst.
Another message, painted on a white work van, read “trash cans, cars and barns,” Ernst said.
Neither vehicle belonged to any of the defendants, Barnard said.
Damage estimates for all the suspicious fires total $200,000.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)