Monday, April 23, 2007

Teen suspect's talking led to vandals' arrests

According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed yesterday in Stafford Circuit Court, the student who was bragged to called Deputy J.C. Wright Sunday and named the suspect.

Date published: 4/5/2007


One of the four Stafford County teenagers charged with hate crimes and other vandalism-related offenses apparently bragged to the wrong person.
Court records show that the 17-year-old suspect, a student at Stafford Senior High School, told a fellow student that he was involved in the vandalism of two churches over the weekend and other vandalism in the past.
Union Bell Baptist Church on Hollywood Farm Road and Strong Tower Ministries on Ferry Road both were defaced by spray paint over the weekend.
Racial slurs were sprayed at Union Bell, and "[expletive] God" was sprayed on a sign at Strong Tower. A pentagram with a circle around it was sprayed on the other side of the sign.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed yesterday in Stafford Circuit Court, the student who was bragged to called Deputy J.C. Wright Sunday and named the suspect.
Wright went to the informant's house and observed an online conversation between the informant and the suspect, who used the screen name "xPTWxApathyx."
The suspect sent the informant a link to a news article about the church vandalism and typed incriminating statements about his role in the Union Bell incident, the affidavit states.
Wright then contacted Deputy Tom Calverley, a school resource officer at Stafford High. Calverley told Wright that the suspect, who is not being named because he is a juvenile, was already under investigation for hacking into the high school network and distributing Ku Klux Klan fliers at the school.
Police later interviewed the suspect at his southern Stafford home. Court records state that the suspect admitted to the crimes and named his three accomplices.
Two of the suspects are 17, and the other 14 and two are brothers. Their names are in court records, but are not being listed because they have not been charged as adults.
The affidavit states that those three also admitted to their roles in the incidents. The brothers said they had had contact with the initial suspect on the Internet.
Police raided a home on Sunset Ridge Lane in the White Oak area and seized several computers and cell phones.
A second search warrant was served on the same house, this time by fire investigator Ben Gouldman III. Fireworks and mortar tubes were seized in that raid.
The suspects in the church vandalism are also suspected of other crimes, including mailbox bombings and setting cars on fire.
On March 18, court records state, Gouldman responded to a mailbox vandalism at 194 New Hope Church Road. While heading there, Gouldman saw a mailbox on fire at 67 Ringgold Road. Both locations are in the White Oak area.
Because the mailbox at 67 Ringgold Road had already been vandalized numerous times, a surveillance camera had been set up.
The tape showed a white four-door vehicle similar to one owned by the brothers' parents. The same vehicle was captured on film at the same mailbox the day before, the affidavit states.
Gouldman is investigating possible charges of using fire bombs or explosive materials, but those charges hadn't been filed as of yesterday.
The four suspects have been charged so far with two felony counts each of entering property with the purpose of damaging it and two misdemeanor counts of injuries to a church.
Sheriff Charles Jett said more charges are pending. Among the other cases connected to the investigation is a recent incident at Scoops Ice Cream store in which $15,000 worth of ice cream was lost when someone turned off the power to the building.Keith Epps: 540/374-5404Email:

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