Were there any copycats during the Eastern Shore arson spree?

Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-11 20:18:22-04

Accomack County, Va. (WTKR) – A year after two were arrested for a string of arson fires on the Eastern Shore, the question of copycat arsonists lingers.

Between November 2012 and April 2013, 87 fires were reportedly set in Accomack County.

Virginia State Police arrested Tonya Bundick and her then-boyfriend Charlie Smith III in April 2013, saying they were responsible for the majority of the fires.

Charlie Smith was charged with 68 counts of arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

He entered a guilty plea to the charges in October 2013 and is awaiting sentencing.

Tonya Bundick was originally charged with one count of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson for an April 2013 fire on Airport Drive in Melfa.

She entered an Alford plea to those charges during a trial in January in Virginia Beach and was convicted.

Before that trial, the Accomack County Grand Jury indicted Bundick on 62 additional counts in December 2013.

During a motions hearing regarding those charges in Accomack County Circuit Court Thursday, Judge Glen Tyler asked Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Agar about copycat fires.

“I hate to ask you this, but how many copycats were there?” Judge Tyler asked.

“I cannot answer that question. I can tell you that the co-defendant was charged with each fire he described as setting,” Agar said.

“I can tell you that there was a study of 87 fires in all. The co-defendant was only charged with those he described to the police as doing,” he continued.

Judge Tyler then asked about Smith’s videotaped confessions with police the morning he was arrested.

State Police drove Smith around Accomack County that morning, allowing him to point out which fires he remembered setting.

“Couldn’t remember them all and they had to ride him around?” Judge Tyler asked.

“They had to ride him around, so you wonder whether there were any copycats, how his memory served him, did he delete one or two – were some of the fires really accidental in nature. How do we really know that there are copycats trying to copy anybody?” Agar responded.

In court, Judge Tyler delayed ruling on a motion to separate Bundick’s remaining charges until he had a chance to review the transcript of Smith’s taped confession with police, as well as transcripts of Smith and Bundick’s testimony at her January trial.

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