Ex-Fire Captain Behind Virginia Arson Spree: Cops

Charles R. Smith III, girlfriend suspected of setting nearly 80 blazes

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 3, 2013 5:01 AM CDT | Updated Apr 3, 2013 5:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – A former volunteer firefighter captain in Virginia and his girlfriend are behind one of the worst arson sprees in state history, police say. Charles R. Smith III and girlfriend Tonya Bundick were arrested soon after an abandoned residence was torched early yesterday. They have been charged in that fire but police say they are confident that the pair are the firebugs behind nearly 80 other fires set in Accomack County since November, the Washington Post reports.

"We now have a very complex prosecution ahead of us due to the sheer numbers of arsons these two people are responsible for setting," a police spokeswoman tells the AP. The fires were set in abandoned buildings up and down the county, with multiple fires sometimes occurring on the same night. Police haven't commented on a motive, and the pair's friends and neighbors are shocked by the arrests. "I don't think there’s anybody that doesn't know them," says an acquaintance who serves as a medic in a local fire department. "They were a very social couple. "They were always out in all the bars ... It’s not like they were reclusive."

This image provided by the Accomack County Jail shows  Charles Robert Smith III.
This image provided by the Accomack County Jail shows Charles Robert Smith III.   (AP Photo/Accomack County Jail)
An investigator carries bags of evidence from the home of Tonya Bundick Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Parksley, Va.
An investigator carries bags of evidence from the home of Tonya Bundick Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Parksley, Va.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
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