Left: Fire personnel extinguishing blaze on March 12 attributed to teen arsonists; photo by Allison Finn
(Rockville, MD) Two Maryland teenagers were charged with setting 17 fires in suburban Washington, DC after they bragged about the blazes on MySpace.com sites.
The young firebugs face a total of 22 charges, including two counts each of first-degree arson and four counts of second-degree arson.
The two boys, whose names have not yet been released, are accused of setting fire to school busses, a bowling alley, retail stores, and numerous vehicles. An anonymous tip led investigators to MySpace, where they found photos and text that linked the teens to the fires.
"The significant thing is they posted on the Internet, and bragged about the fires, and that certainly allowed us to break the case," said Montgomery County Fire Chief Thomas W. Carr Jr. "They posted photos of these fires."
Carr said that the wave of fires frightened residents in the area.
"Whatever their motive is, they took the opportunity to set numerous fires," he said of the spree that lasted from January 20 to April 16. "The neighbors were very much concerned about the terror in their neighborhood. They were freaked out."
Carr added that, while the MySpace tip helped break the case, he had grave concerns about parental oversight.
"There's two things about that. One, it definitely helped us," he said. "But two, the ability to communicate in real time and brag in real time is obviously a concern. It illustrates that the parents need to be involved. Where were the parents when this was going on?"