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Judge Says Alleged Arsonist & Cemetery Vandal Will Have One Trial for 'Crime Spree'

by on August 19, 2014 4:18 PM

A judge has denied the request of accused arsonist and cemetery vandal to have separate trials for each incident.

Centre County Common Pleas Judge Pamela Ruest issued an order Friday saying the charges for the three separate incidents can be tried as one case because together they are considered a crime spree.

Timothy Penrod, 24, of State College, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in June and is being held at the Centre County Correctional Facility in lieu of $150,000 bail – which breaks down to $50,000 for each arson and another $50,000 for the cemetery vandalism.

The first arson occurred about 11 p.m. on May 18, in the 700 block of Windsor Court. A large wooden shed located roughly 20 feet from a residence was destroyed. Damage was estimated at roughly $10,000. Items lost included a lawn mower and several bicycles.

Authorities say it appeared the fire was intentionally set using a small amount of accelerant at the doorway to the shed.

The second arson was reported minutes later. It happened a few blocks away in the 1000 block of Bayberry Drive across from Orchard Park. The fire covered the entire front of the home, where the siding, windows and wooden deck furniture were "soaked" with lighter fluid, according to court records.

Police say charcoal lighter fluid was used to start the fire and investigators located a canister of the fluid in a trash can along a nearby bike path. Authorities say fingerprints were obtained from the container.

A neighbor's surveillance video reportedly captured the incident. Police say the footage indicates the fire was set about 11:06 p.m. and shows a person walking onto the deck and then heading toward the bike path.

Soon after, a passerby alerted the two residents inside about the fire and they were able to safely exit.

Authorities say based upon the amount of fluid sprayed on the home, if the fire had spread, it likely would have blocked the home's front exits. Police say the fire caused roughly $2,000 in damage.

Ferguson Township police also filed charges against Penrod for allegedly toppling 15 headstones at Pine Hall Cemetery in May.

Police also allege Penrod burned at least one American flag posted at a grave and attempted to enter the secured maintenance shed through a window.

In that case, police collected several pieces of evidence at the scene, which led to Penrod's arrest, including a baseball hat, cell phone, beer can, beer and food receipts, footprint and other forensic evidence.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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