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Pa. man accused of torching school enters not guilty plea

September 20, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man accused of setting fire to the Cumberland Valley Christian School in June pleaded not guilty Wednesday and will be scheduled for a November trial, according to court records.

Eric Todd Woods, 21, of 2795B Letterkenny Road, waived his arraignment in Franklin County Court.

He is charged with two counts of arson, one count of criminal mischief, one count of institutional vandalism, one count of burglary and one count of theft. The charges are related to fires set at the Christian school June 4 and 5 and an attempted arson at Falling Spring Elementary School on June 7.

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.

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He was charged on July 3 after nearly a month of investigation.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Woods said that at 3 a.m. on June 4, he went to the Cumberland Valley Christian School, 600 Miller St., 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.

Damage was estimated at $150,000, and has since been repaired, school officials said.

Woods said he broke a rear window of Falling Spring Elementary and attempted to set the curtain on fires, but he said they would not light and he left the scene, the affidavit said.

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