Facebook thread may have prompted Eastern Shore arson

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-19 18:08:17-04

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WTKR) — Charges against Eastern Shore arson suspects Tonya Bundick and Charles Smith III were certified by an Accomack County General District Court judge on Monday.

Meanwhile, new details are offering a glimpse of what police have learned in their investigation.

Documents revela that Smith told police that he wished he was back on drugs during an interview just hours after he was caught allegedly setting the final blaze before he was apprehended.

Smith also told investigators in April that he and Bundick had set more than 70 of the fires. In that interview, Smith would not say why the couple started the blaze, but did say that he “never enjoyed it.”

However, search warrants obtained by police for two Facebook accounts operated by Bundick, indicate that a thread on the social media site may sparked one blaze.

“Mr. Smith specifically indicated that in one case they targeted a residence that he burned over comments made to Ms. Bundick on Facebook,” wrote one investigator.

Virginia State Police have said that they believe Bundick and Smith are responsible for the majority of the nearly 80 arson cases that terrorized Accomack County between November 2012 and April 2013.

The charges of arson and conspiracy to commit arson that were certified Monday were for just one fire: The last one that was set at a home on Airport Road in Melfa on the night of April 1.

In court Monday, Virginia State Troopers Troy Johnson and WH Burke Jr. testified that they had been on a surveillance operation in a tent in the woods just 40-50 yards beyond the house. Just before midnight, Johnson, wearing night-vision goggles, saw a minivan pull up to the house and a man get out and start running to the rear of the property.

Johnson testified that he saw the man stuff some sort of material into what appeared to be a rear door and then try to light it three to four times before it caught fire. The man then took off running towards Airport Drive where the minivan appeared and picked him up.

Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin testified in court that he heard the traffic stop over the radio and responded to the scene. There he saw Bundick sitting in a police cruiser and Smith in handcuffs.

The pair were arrested and interviewed by Virginia State Police in the early morning hours of April 2.

Click here to read more of this story from WTKR in Norfolk.