Arrest warrant issued for Pa. man in Hardee's fire

June 27, 2003|by DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Pennsylvania State Police Wednesday filed an arrest warrant, charging a Greencastle, Pa., man in connection with a fire at a Southampton Township Hardee's Sunday morning.

Eric Christopher Barney, 26, of 8197 Talhelm Road, was still at large Thursday morning, police said. His attorney, David Yoder, said Thursday afternoon that he did not know Barney's whereabouts.

Police have charged Barney with arson and theft, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in District Justice Shirley Shatzer's office.


The 4:45 a.m. fire caused an estimated $900,000 damage to the Hardee's at 9966 Molly Pitcher Highway near Shippensburg, Pa., according to police. That was an upward revision of the original damage estimate of $500,000.

Barney was the manager when the business closed at 11 p.m. Saturday, according to the affidavit. Investigators found approximately $2,000 in cash missing from the office safe, which was undamaged and still locked when it was opened after the fire.

Police said the remains of the door knob indicated the office door had been locked after a fire was set to a plastic garbage can inside the room. A fire also had been set in another garbage can near the front counter and a police dog detected the presence of an accelerant used to set the fire.

The charred remains of a log book and coin bags normally kept in the safe were found in the ruins of the business, police said.

On the morning of the fire, police interviewed a woman who was delivering newspapers near Hardee's. She told police she saw a silver Ford Mustang with a loud exhaust speed out of the Hardee's parking lot shortly before the fire was discovered, according to the affidavit.

The woman saw the car then slow down and drive behind another nearby business. The woman's daughter also told police she saw the driver as the Mustang passed beneath a street light, the affidavit said.

Police obtained a search warrant for Barney's home Monday, and he and a roommate arrived as police were conducting the search. Barney was driving a silver Mustang with a modified exhaust, according to the affidavit.

Barney told police he had gone to Charles Town (W.Va.) Races & Slots and played the slot machines after work with a friend, according to the affidavit. He said they left at about 3 a.m. and he got home at around 4 a.m. and went to bed, the affidavit stated.

Police went to Charles Town and interviewed the director of the racetrack, Milton Champion. Track records showed Barney had used his Player's Choice Card between 12:55 a.m. and 2:27 a.m. Sunday and lost $447.25 on $1,723.25 wagered, according to the affidavit.

The friend who accompanied Barney to the track went with him to Valley Mall the next day where he saw Barney with "a big wad of money," according to the affidavit.

The arson charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence on conviction of 10 years, according to state law. The theft charge is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of seven years.

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