Ex-firefighter, girlfriend suspected of setting nearly 80 fires

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by 13News Team Coverage

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 9:37 AM

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. - Two people have been charged with the latest arson in Accomack County, Va. and officials said more charges are expected.

Forty-year-old Tonya Bundick and 38-year-old Charles Smith, a.k.a. Charlie Applegate, both of Parksley, are due in court Wednesday afternoon on one felony count each of arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

Officials said the two, who are boyfriend and girlfriend, set fire to a vacant home in Melfa late Monday night.

According to the arrest warrant issued for Bundick, "Surveillance units watched a vehicle drop off an individual at a location on Airport Road. Individual proceeded to set fire to residence at address. A vehicle returned and picked up individual."

Bundick and Smith were taken into custody during a traffic stop not far from the fire on Airport Drive. That fire was discovered at 11:40 p.m. Monday and they were stopped just after midnight Tuesday, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

“Based on evidence collected since this morning and during the course of the investigations over the past five months, we are confident that Bundick and Smith are responsible for the majority of the fires set since November 12th of last year,” Capt. Tim Reibel, Commander of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said.

Sources said Smith is a former captain of the Tasley Volunteer Fire Department, but Geller said Smith was not a firefighter at the time the arsons were committed.

"I would never think anything bad of her or him. They didn't seem like those kind of people. One of my friends sent me a text this morning and told me. I said 'no way," friend Liz Fentress said.

Bundick's cousin, Tanya Stevens, said she believes Tonya was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Tonya has never been in trouble before. 

"Tonya loves her kids too much to do something so stupid," she said. 

Keith Johnson, a neighbor of Bundick's, said he was shocked to find out she's been charged in Monday night's fire.

The fire is the latest in a series of more than 70 arsons to abandoned buildings since mid-November 2012. Sixteen of the 77 arsons were set in Parksley.

"We’ve worked hand in hand with State Police and I think we’re finally going to bring this to closure,"  Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin said. "We’re still following up on some leads, and we should know something (about other arsons) later today, probably."

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