Second arson suspect is put on home detention

4 of 6 charged still in custody in $10 million Charles Co. fires

December 28, 2004|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

GREENBELT - A second suspect in the arsons that caused $10 million in damage to a Charles County housing development was ordered released to home detention yesterday.

Michael M. Everhart, 20, of Waldorf was told he must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and will not be allowed to leave his parents' home without permission from authorities.

The U.S. attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case, did not oppose Everhart's release to home detention during his appearance yesterday before Chief Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze in U.S. District Court.

Everhart did not comment as he left the courthouse with family members. He is the second of six suspects arrested in connection with the Dec. 6 fires to be released while awaiting trial. Four others remain in custody.

The suspects, all in their early 20s, are accused of participating in a pre-dawn arson spree that destroyed 10 houses under construction and damaged 16 others in the upscale Hunters Brooke subdivision.

Investigators say the suspects were part of a local street-racing club called the Unseen Cavaliers. One member has accused its leader of planning the fires to increase the group's notoriety.

In court filings, authorities also say that revenge might have been a factor. At least two suspects bore a grudge against companies affiliated with Hunters Brooke.

Racism is another possible motive authorities have said they are exploring, although none of the suspects has been charged with a hate crime. Many of the people buying homes in Hunters Brooke are African-American. The six suspects are white.

A search warrant issued for the home of one of the suspects, Patrick S. Walsh of Fort Washington, authorized investigators to "seize any evidence of a racial nature ... including paraphernalia associated with white supremacist, neo-Nazi or other extremist" groups that espouse violence against minorities.

Authorities have not disclosed whether racist material was found during their search, and affidavits filed with the request for the warrant were sealed.

In court filings, investigators have pointed to Walsh, 20, as the ringleader of the group that set the fires. He and another suspect, Aaron Lee Speed, 21, of Waldorf, were denied bail at court hearings last week. Speed was a security guard for a company hired to safeguard Hunters Brooke.

Two other suspects, Jeremy D. Parady, 20, of Accokeek and Michael E. Gilbert, 21, of Fort Washington, remain in custody pending further court proceedings.

Roy T. "Brian" McCann Jr., 22, of Waldorf was released on home detention with electronic monitoring.

In a sworn affidavit filed in court this month, Charles Trainor, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Everhart at first denied any knowledge of the fires at Hunters Brooke.

Later, Everhart admitted knowing about the plans and said he was present at Hunters Brooke the night of the fires, according to Trainor. Everhart claimed to have left the site before any homes were on fire, Trainor said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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