Local News

Reward offered for information on suspicious Clayton fires

Posted May 3, 2010

— The Clayton Police Department on Monday offered a reward of more than $10,000 for information on a series of fires in recent months that authorities believe were set.

Two Clayton homes burned Sunday, marking the sixth and seventh fires in buildings under construction in the Clayton area since the end of October.

Commercial construction site Builders add security at construction sites

"It's just very suspicious that we have all these fires in this area," Capt. John Coley of the Clayton Police Department said.

The fires have prompted local property owners to beef up security at construction sites. Some builders said they planned to lock crawl spaces under unoccupied homes, while others have discussed installing alarms, trip wires and motion-activated lights.

"There's not but so much that can be done with a home under construction, open to the environment and open to everyone," said Neil Jarman, president of the Home Builders Association of Johnston County.

Still, Jarman said, the group is considering drawing up a list of tips for securing construction sites and sending them out to builders. When the association meets Tuesday, the suspicious fires will be a major topic of discussion, he said.

"I hope we can find whoever it is whose doing this," he said.

The State Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Clayton police and Clayton and Johnston County fire marshals are investigating the cause and origin of the fires.

Authorities believe the following fires have been set:

  • 12 Cameo Court, on Oct. 31 and Dec. 15
  • 47 Cameo Court, on Oct. 31
  • 102 Rolling Meadows, on Jan. 18
  • 116 Rolling Meadows, on Jan. 18
  • 137 Skygrove Drive, on May 2
  • 151 Skygrove Drive, on May 2

Suspicious Clayton fires

View Clayton arson fires in a larger map

On April 5, a fire ripped through a day-care center under construction in the 3100 block of Vinson Road. A 13-year-old boy who lives in the area was charged in that case.

"One of the hardest things to overcome is the anger with the whole situation," said Lois Stephenson, the owner of the center. "How can someone be so destructive with someone else's property and not care?"

Even with the arrest in her case, Stephenson has hired security to check on the construction site as she rebuilds the center, and she keeps lights on at the site from dusk till dawn.

"You feel unsafe and vulnerable with this going on in your community," she said.

Anyone who observed suspicious activity or has other information about the fire should call Clayton police at 919-553-4611 or Clayton Crime Stoppers at 919-359-8479.


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  • cwood3 May 3, 2010

    I agree that fire rosters need to be examined. Also, I agree that the home builders may not be involved.

    However, what about builders sub-contractors that may be hanging on by a thread in this economy? I asked the same question after the Building Blocks fire. I do think it's worth some examation by a good investigator.

    Good luck. Folks from other parts of Clayton are beginning to get worried. We have a wonderful town to live in with an arsonist on the loose. Fortunately, no serious injuries have occured.

    I/we pray that this person or persons are caught before serious injury occurs!!

  • working for deadbeats May 3, 2010

    "Per FBI stats & profiles, arsonists are typically white male - early 20's. It appears Clayton has one"

    Where are all the leftys screaming racial stuff?? LOL

  • dlentz2 May 3, 2010

    whatsupwiththat, Clayton detectives are not the only ones looking at these cases. FBI and SBI are involved.
    KT6596, I agree they need to take a look the firefighters rosters and such. I have heard that they think it could be connected to someone like that.

  • bgcoving May 3, 2010

    I was the original poster here and I am a resident of Glen Laurel...If you look at a mpa, you will see that all of these fires form a semi-circle, walking distance if you will, around our neighborhood. There are subdivisions along Vinson Rd -- 2-3 miles away with many finished and unoccupied houses that haven't been hit. The cops busted a 13-yr. old for the day care center fire, and I gather they thought they had the culprit. The problem is I'm betting they caught the copycat instead of the kid or kids (yes, my bet is kids) who have been torching these places. The Clayton police have stepped up their presence in our neighborhood -- slightly, but on any weekend night I can step out my front door at midnight and there will be two or three gaggles of teenagers in earshot, wandering around, texting, riding skateboards...They are not all up to no good, but some of them surely are. I don't think a curfew is the answer, but it might help.

  • KT6596 May 3, 2010

    THE FOX IS CORRECT! I sure hope that I am wrong on this one, but if they haven't already the police need to take a gander at the current Clayton Firefighter Roster and conduct some investigating. History and statistics will show that this is more the possibility than not.

  • whatsupwiththat May 3, 2010


  • Glass Half Full May 3, 2010

    As close together as they are my bet is that whoever is setting the fires is also a bystander watching them burn and be extinguished. Begin watching those who gather and film them if possible for later review.

  • The Fox May 3, 2010

    Per FBI stats & profiles, arsonists are typically white male - early 20's. It appears Clayton has one.

  • PookieYam May 3, 2010

    Wonder if these were an ELF action?

  • DbzHugz May 3, 2010

    Didn't they also have those suspicious fires last year(May and June maybe)that happened at a church...twice I think. Maybe checking the info and leads from that investigation would get something to help them. I don't think that was ever solved...so maybe it is the same people continuing their destruction. They probably already cross checked the info, but the church fires weren't mentioned as part of the suspesious fires, so thought I would throw that in there.