Break-in suspect charged with 12 trash bin fires

September 25, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

A 23-year-old man with a history of arson arrests was charged Friday in connection with 12 trash container fires in the Edgewood and Joppa areas since early last month, fire marshals said.

Dwayne Edward Johnson of the 1700 block of Deerwood Court, Edgewood, was being held at the Harford County Detention Center on $50,000 bond.

Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Bob Thomas said fire investigators began suspecting Mr. Johnson of the trash bin fires after he was arrested late Wednesday on storehouse breaking and entering and malicious destruction charges tied to a break-in at Edgewood Elementary School in which about $3,000 worth of equipment was damaged.

County sheriff's deputies who answered a burglar alarm at the school saw blood at the scene and reported that when they found Mr. Johnson walking nearby, he had a bleeding finger. They also said they found cigarette lighters in his pocket.

Mr. Thomas said his office suspected Mr. Johnson in the trash container fires when marshals heard about the lighters.

Sheriff's investigators said Mr. Johnson admitted to the school break-in shortly after his arrest Wednesday, and the suspect was released on his own recognizance Thursday by a District Court commissioner.

Later Thursday, fire investigators questioned Mr. Johnson and said he admitted to having set more than 70 trash container fires since early last month, Mr. Thomas said.

Mr. Johnson told fire investigators that he set the fires because of anxiety and emotional stress, Mr. Thomas said. The total estimated damage in those fires was about $30,000.

Harford Circuit Court records show that Mr. Johnson was convicted of arson in 1990, given a five-year suspended sentence and placed on three years of supervised probation.

District Court records show that a 1989 arson charge against him involving a trash container fire at a Joppa school was placed on the inactive docket.

Investigators from the fire marshal's office, sheriff's office and Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company had stepped up efforts solve the trash container fires in the past several weeks, Mr. Thomas said.

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