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Pa. arson suspect charged

July 04, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Pennsylvania State Police say the man charged with setting fire to the Cumberland Valley Christian School twice last month stayed to watch one fire burn along with a crowd of onlookers.

Eric Todd Woods, 21, had been "a suspect shortly after the fire," said Trooper Skip Sydnor, Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal in Chambersburg.

Someone at the fire scene pointed out Woods' car to Sydnor and said it seemed out of place. Sydnor took down the license plate number and said it was registered to Woods.

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"He observed the fire. He was in the crowd and was noticed," Trooper Ed Asbury, a Pennsylvania State Police spokesman, said at a Wednesday morning press conference.

Woods, of 2795 B Letterkenny Road, Chambersburg, was in Franklin County Prison in lieu of $125,000 bail.

He was charged Tuesday with two counts of arson and one count each of burglary and criminal mischief for the June 4 and June 5 fires, according to police. Woods was also charged with one count each of burglary, theft and criminal mischief for breaking into a Greene Township house and stealing about $2,500 of items the same day, according to court records.

Charges are forthcoming for crimes dating to May, including fires at Falling Spring Elementary and J. Frank Faust Junior High schools, an attempted fire at the Chambersburg Municipal Pool concession stand, the burglary of the Spirit of Christ Church in Chambersburg and the attempted burglary at the concession stand at the Kensington Heights ball fields, according to a police news release and court records.

"We had to get him in. We wanted to put the public at ease," Asbury said Wednesday. "If we would charge him with everything at once, it could take another month."

Troopers confronted Woods at his home Tuesday, where he admitted his involvement in the Christian school fire, the robbery of the Greene Township home, and other incidents, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed with District Justice Gary Carter.

Asbury said detectives noticed a link between the fire and robbery because a computer was taken from the home and the computers at the school were disturbed.

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