Investigators said Tyler Murray started setting fires out of boredom, but it evolved into a vendetta against a deputy state fire marshal.
The Maryland State Fire Marshal charged four people in a string of arson fires in western Maryland.
The defendants may be linked to about 40 suspicious fires in Washington and Frederick counties since March 17, State Fire Marshal William Barnard said Tuesday said.
No one was hurt in any of the fires.
The charges announced Tuesday reflect several vehicle fires and a barn fire that caused $50,000 worth of damage to a Boonsboro structure on the night of Feb. 27, Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst said.
Most of the charges are against 20-year-old Tyler Murray of Williamsport. He dared Ernst to catch him by spray-painting the words, “Catch me if you can,” on a car near his home, officials said. Before the string or arson fires became a personal vendetta against the deputy state fire marshal, they began out of boredom, investigators said.
Murray is charged with six counts of second-degree arson and one count of first-degree malicious burning. Sarah Mathews, 19, and Olivia Hannah, 20, both are charged with one count of second-degree malicious burning and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree arson. Morgan Nield, 20, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree arson and one count of attempted arson.
Authorities are investigating to develop any additional suspects, and more charges are expected at a later date.
Damage estimates for all the suspicious fires total $200,000.