Cemetery vandalism suspect charged in State College arsons

lfalce@centredaily.comJune 3, 2014 

Arson1

One of the May 18 arsons was on Windsor Court, where a shed behind the house was burned. Another arson was reported at 1037 Bayberry Drive both in the State College Borough.

NABIL K. MARK — CDT file photo Buy Photo

The man charged last week with vandalizing the Pine Hall Cemetery in Ferguson Township was in more hot water Tuesday when State College police charged him with arson.

Charges were filed against Timothy Penrod, 24, of State College, before District Judge Steve Lachman. Penrod was named in two separate arson cases at two Orchard Park area properties late at night May 18. Charges include three counts of arson, two counts of criminal mischief, one count of criminal trespass and one count of reckless endangerment.

Police said Penrod set fire to a large wooden shed in the backyard at 712 Windsor Court, about 20 feet behind the residence. The shed was completely destroyed. Other valuables destroyed in the fire included a lawnmower and several bicycles with a total value of about $10,000.

Fifteen minutes after the first fire was reported, wooden deck furniture was soaked in lighter fluid and torched on the porch of a home at 1037 Bayberry Drive. The siding and window of the home also were doused with the lighter fluid. Damage was estimated at $2,000.

A large empty container of the fluid was found in a trash can in the park along the bike path that runs behind both properties.

Penrod, a resident of a Strawberry Fields community rehabilitation services facility at 910 Southgate Drive, also lives close to that bike path.

Strawberry Fields personnel reported to police that night that Penrod did not return to the residence by his 11 p.m. curfew. Court documents said staff reported that when he returned at 11:45 p.m., he had several fresh cuts on his forearm, which he reported doing to himself. He was “transported to the hospital based on self-cutting and statements about being depressed.” He was subsequently committed to the Meadows until May 25.

Ferguson Township police similarly reported Penrod’s breaking of curfew in relation to the May 26-27 cemetery vandalism.

Police interviewed Penrod on Friday, when he admitted to drinking prior to the two arsons. According to the affidavit of probable cause, he said he tipped over the lawnmower at the Windsor Court property and dumped the gas in the doorway of the shed, setting the fire with his lighter. He then fled the area, found the lighter fluid in a backyard along the bike path, and set the Bayberry Drive blaze before returning home.

Penrod allegedly told police he did not know why he set the fires and that he was not trying to hurt anyone.

He remains in custody in the Centre County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail.

State College police have said previously that they thought the cases may have been connected to the vandalism of the Boalsburg cemetery. However, at a briefing Monday, Lt. Keith Robb said that case is still being treated as an active, open case and that information on that vandalism is still being sought.

 

Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.

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