Lighters, towels, gas canisters found in van and home of alleged arsonists

Posted at 7:55 PM, Apr 03, 2013

Accomack County, Va. -NewsChannel 3 has learned more about what police found inside of the home and van of the two accused in the Accomack County arson investigation.

Search warrants show several items were seized from the home of Tonya Bundick and Charles Smith. These items included a plastic gas can, several pairs of boots, a pair of tan coveralls and two computers.

Police also searched the gold minivan that Smith and Bundick were driving the night they were arrested, and found 8 lighters, 14 towels, several pairs of gloves, and black/camouflage clothing.

The search warrants also detail what investigators saw while performing surveillance on the Airport Drive home in Melfa...a car door slamming, a person running to the back of the house, a flame from a match or lighter, with a person standing by the door as the fire started to take.

They watched as that person ran back to the gold minivan...they say that person ended up being Charles Smith.

In the search warrants, investigators say Smith admitted to starting the Monday night fire using a piece of a rag that he took from his shop, Charlie's Autobody in Tasley.

Those same search warrants say K9 dogs were brought to the home on Airport Drive, where the rag was found wedged in a door frame covered with accelerant.

NewsChannel 3 has also learned more about Smith's past. He's a high school dropout with a history of drug problems that led him to commit crimes. Back in 1994, Smith pleaded guilty to forging 24 checks. Court records state he was stealing the money from a family member he was living with so that he could buy crack.

In 1998, Sheriff's deputies arrested Smith again after he stole tools and guns from two different homes. In his case file, Smith admitted to using the money to buy drugs.

He never served serious jail time for any of those crimes, only being sentenced to rehab or community corrections programs.

For almost 15 years, Charles Smith stayed out of trouble...that is until his Monday night arrest.

State police still haven't released a motive for why this former fire captain would have wanted to commit arson.

Related Stories:

Woman accused in Accomack arson investigation appears in court

Timeline: Accomack County arson investigation

More charges expected for two accused in Accomack County arson investigation

Accomack County firefighters have spent 3,700 hours fighting arson fires

NewsChannel 3 takes action to help Accomack County’s firefighters