Couple charged in Eastern Shore arson in court

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by Philip Townsend, 13News

Associated Press

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 6:25 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 17 at 6:42 PM

ACCOMACK CO. -- Two people suspected of setting a string of fires on Virginia's Eastern Shore were in court Monday.

Charles R. Smith III and Tonya Bundick are each charged with one count of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson in connection with a fire at an abandoned structure in Melfa.

Police have said the couple is responsible for most of the 77 arsons on the Eastern Shore since last fall. They were arrested April 2, shortly after fire damaged an abandoned structure in Melfa.

A District Court judge heard from several witnesses Monday.
 
An agent with Virginia State Police described in detail an admission by Smith the night of the arrest.
 
According to the transcript read in court, Smith admitted to being dropped off at an abandoned building by Bundick before a fire was set to the structure.  Smith also explained to the agent that he knew he was being "set-up" and that he would be "busted" that night.
 
Another State Trooper detailed the surveillance investigation the night of the arrest.  He said he was operating a radio and his partner wore night-vision goggles, while officers were camped out near an abandoned building on Airport Road.
 
According to the trooper, a van pulled up to the structure, a man jumped out and then ran behind the building.  It appeared the man was trying to spark something and flames were soon visible.
 
After trying to chase down the man, the trooper says he saw the man getting back into the van.
 
Bundick and Smith were arrested in a van, just several hundred yards away, by an Accomack County Deputy.

In court documents, Smith told investigators he torched 52 unoccupied buildings and Bundick set fire to 15.

 

 

 

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