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State College Man Pleads Guilty to Arson, Grave Desecration, Flag Burning

by on October 09, 2014 10:35 AM

A State College man has pleaded guilty to several serious crimes including arson, flag burning and desecrating graves.

Timothy Penrod, 24, of State College faced a judge on Wednesday according to a news release from the Centre County District Attorney's office. Penrod was arrested in connection with three separate incidents. Police first responded to two arsons in State College the morning of May 18, 2014.

Penrod set fire to a shed – destroying it and the valuables inside it. Minutes later he set fire to the front of a house a few blocks away, damaging the siding. A passerby stopped and alerted residents in the home, giving them time to escape. The two fires caused about $12,000 in damage.

The very next week, on the night of May 26, Penrod went on a vandalism spree at the Pine Hall Cemetery in Ferguson Township. Fifteen tombstones were desecrated, and some of the American flags placed on veterans’ graves were found burned nearby. The cost to repair the grave sites was over $2,400.

Police linked Penrod to the crimes after finding a May 26 credit card receipt for $2.25 and an empty can of Miller beer at the cemetery. Investigators determined that the receipt, in Penrod's name, matched the cost of a Miller purchased at a downtown bar.

Police also found a black baseball cap, two sandwich boxes from a fast food restaurant, Penrod’s cell phone and a footprint matching his sneaker. Surveillance footage from the fast food restaurant showed Penrod buying food and wearing a black cap.

Penrod pleaded guilty to arson with the intent to destroy an unoccupied building, arson with the intent to destroy an inhabited building, criminal mischief, trespassing, institutional vandalism, desecration of a public monument, burglary and destroying a flag.

He will be sentenced on November 14, 2014.

"With fire and force the defendant demolished and desecrated not just possessions, but revered monuments, symbols and reminders of loved ones lost,” Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller says in the news release. “We are fortunate that no one was hurt by these fires and will seek a substantial state sentence for his actions.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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