Arson suspect linked to six Forest Hills fires

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, December 3, 2015
The suspect was captured on surveillance video.

FOREST HILLS (WABC) -- The reward has increased to $12,500 for the capture of the person suspected for setting fire to several homes in Forest Hills, Queens.

There have been six cases in total so far, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. He has been inclined to believe there is a pattern to these fires that started on Oct. 20, with the last occurring on Nov. 25.

Boyce stated that a note was left at the scene of the last fire that was believed to be from the perpetrator, "the arson."

"Initially we looked at it as a lead," Boyce said, "it was encrypted." When detectives deciphered the code, the riddle appeared to be directing them to a resident of the neighborhood.

But when detectives talked to that resident, they quickly determined he had nothing to do with the arsons. He was also able to account for his whereabouts during the fires and he has no prior arrest history.

"The lead has now turned into a mislead," said Boyce.

Of the six arsons, four were in homes under construction. The four fires took place on November 8th on 112th Street, November 15th on 69th Road, November 17th on 66th Avenue and Wednesday night, November 25th on 67th Drive. The others were in an empty building and at a storage facility.

According to Boyce, the suspect is using "combustible materials found at the scene."

Boyce said the investigation continues, and there are increased patrols in the area.

Investigators say while they do not have a suspect, they would like to talk to a man who was captured on what they're calling poor quality surveillance video from the November 17th fire.

They say a man appears to be wearing all black and black backpack.

A man was also captured in a photo from the latest case. "He is wearing a hoodie and he is walking past the location," Boyce said.