Local News

Investigators Believe Arsonist Has Returned

Posted September 24, 1998

— Police think they are closing in on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro arsonist. Authorities believe the suspect is responsible for dozens of fires over a four-year period.

Investigators say they have a key piece of evidence to link the suspect to the crimes. Police are looking for a man with a bad cut on his hand or arm.

Investigators say their main suspect left the area about a year ago, and the fires stopped. Now, that unidentified person has returned to the area, and the fires are also back.

Police say two cars were torched Friday morning with materials found nearby, and that suggests that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro arsonist is back in action.

Officers say they strongly believe the same person that is responsible for dozens of fires over the past four years in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area is behind the car fires. Because of blood found near the cars, investigators think the arsonist badly cut his hand or arm.

"If somebody has a friend, associate, acquaintance that they know that's got an injury to their hand, a cut, bruising, swelling and has even done their own doctoring and bandaging, they need to call us with that name. It may be the tip that we need," said Carrboro Police Sergeant Joel Booker.

The folks at Paint the Earth ceramic studio got a world of trouble from the arsonist last September.

"The fire department was wonderful," explained arson victim Carol Land. "They got in fast and really contained it, which was wonderful, because it did come in the vents in the back and could have torched the whole place."

Everyone who lost something to the arsonist probably feels the same way.

"Needless to say we would love to have this person, whoever it is, picked up," explained Land. "Clearly it's someone that needs help, from the psychiatric profile. I've heard it's someone who sets fires for the fun of it and obviously needs to be picked up."

The greatest fear now is that someone will get hurt before the arsonist is caught. Anyone with information is asked to call the Chapel Hill or Carrboro Police Department.


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