Virginia State Police have arrested a Parksley couple in connection with an arson in Melfa Monday night on Airport Drive. Just after midnight this morning Police stopped a van near the scene of the last arson and arrested 40 year old Tonya Bundick and Charles Smith – also known as Charles Applegate. Both are currently charged with one count each of felony arson and felony conspiracy to commit arson. However Police expect additional charges to follow as the investigation is continuing.
There have been 77 arsons and two attempted arsons in vacant or abandoned residential, business or other structures since the fires began on November 12. Virginia State Police expect that a handful of the fires were set for other reasons, but that Bundick and Smith or Applegate are responsible for the bulk of the arsons.
Police say the two live together and are boyfriend and girlfriend and according to the Tasley Volunteer Fire Company website, Applegate was a member of the Fire Company - he is listed as a Captain, but not an active member.
Police say they have had over 1200 tips about the series of arsons - the investigation has included the 12 local Accomack County Volunteer Fire Companies and the Virginia State Police as well as the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, the ATF and FBI. The investigation is continuing and police are still asking residents to continue to pass on tips on these incidents 757-655-1437 – as there may be some arsons that were not the responsibility of Bundick and Smith.
Audio from Virginia State Police Press Conference -
(Audio from press conference courtesy of WBOC TV-16 in Salisbury)
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