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More charges filed in school fires

July 31, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg man accused of setting fire to the Cumberland Valley Christian School twice last month waived his preliminary hearing in Franklin County Court Tuesday, one day after additional charges were filed against him.

Eric Todd Woods, 21, of 2795B Letterkenny Road, waived his hearing and was scheduled for a Sept. 18 arraignment, a court official said.

He was charged 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 also was 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.

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Police filed additional charges against Woods Monday, including one count of institutional vandalism and one count of arson and related offenses stemming from the Christian school fire. He also was charged with criminal mischief for the attempted arson of Falling Spring Elementary School on June 7, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed with District Justice Gary Carter.

Woods said he did break a rear window of Falling Spring Elementary and attempt to set the curtain on fire, but he said they would not light and he left the scene, according to the affidavit.

Woods was identified as a suspect in the Cumberland Valley Christian School arson in part because someone noticed his car at the scene of the fire and told police it seemed out of place, police said.

The affidavit of probable cause alleges that Woods said that at 3 a.m. on June 4, he went to the Cumberland Valley Christian School at 600 Miller St. in Chambersburg, and set fire to some tar paper in the area of new construction at the school.

He told police he returned 24 hours later and broke into the computer room and set fire to the curtains, causing the room to catch fire and destroy the entire room and equipment, the affidavit alleges. He also said he set fires to the exterior of the school, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

School and fire officials estimated the damage at $150,000.

State Police Fire Marshal Skip Sydnor said Woods acted alone, and investigators were trying to determine his motive.

Sydnor said many of the incidents happened after reports of the fire at the Cumberland Valley Christian School appeared in local newspapers.

Woods was being held in Franklin County Prison on $125,000 bail.

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