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Man sought in Martinsburg arson, burglary cases

April 28, 2010

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Martinsburg Police have charged a man with setting one of 13 intentionally set fires in the city this year.

Police allege that Joshua Daniel Stevens, 30, set a fire in a dryer in a vacant duplex at 910 Central Ave. between Friday evening and Saturday morning, according to police.

Stevens is charged in warrants issued Wednesday by Berkeley County Magistrate Harry L. Snow with first-degree arson, burglary, grand larceny, petit larceny and destruction of property, according to police.

The fire, which went out on its own, caused an estimated $10,000 in smoke damage to the home, Martinsburg Fire Department Lt. Greg Hoover said Monday. Many items in the home were broken, police said Wednesday.

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Martinsburg Police Detective G.B. Swartwood said Wednesday that based on evidence collected after each of the 13 fires was set, investigators believe there is more than one arsonist. Police did not indicate whether Stevens was a suspect in any of the other fires.

Swartwood said the department was treating the fires as "a priority case" and was continuing its investigation.

Police allege Stevens broke into a Martinsburg Police Department cruiser that was parked in the area of Moler Avenue, and stole personal and police department items. Police allege Stevens then broke into the Central Avenue home, damaged items and started the fire.

After leaving the residence, police allege that Stevens stole a 1998 Ford Explorer that belonged to a city resident. When the vehicle was found, it was completely burned, according to police.

Martinsburg Police were assisted in their investigation by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department and West Virginia State Police.

Anyone with information on Stevens' whereabouts may contact the Martinsburg Police Department at 304-264-2100 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

A reward of as much as $2,500 for information leading to an arrest in the arson cases is being offered through the West Virginia Arson Hotline and as much as $1,000 is being offered by Crime Solvers, officials have said.

Most of the fires have been set in a concentrated area of downtown Martinsburg, beginning with the Jan. 13 fire at Harvest Lighthouse Ministries at 104 E. Martin St. The fire and at least two others were set after gasoline was poured through a door mail slot and ignited, officials have said.

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