Friday, May 24, 2013
ALFRED - Carol Field, the grandmother from Standish who is charged with being a serial arsonist, will remain in jail on $100,000 bail because of the threat she poses to public safety, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Arson suspect Carol Field, shown at her bail hearing Tuesday, is a “sweet old lady” with mental health issues, says her lawyer, J.P. DeGrinney.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Field, 65, appeared in York County Superior Court to face two charges of arson and to seek lower bail. She was arrested Friday, charged with setting fires in Raymond, Waterboro and Limerick.
The matronly suspect, listed at 5 feet 1 inch and 170 pounds, was taken into custody at her home days after a tracking device was placed on her car. The device showed that she drove to the place where a fire was set Sept. 27, off Moody Road in Standish, where her car was seen.
After a long interview with investigators Friday, Field was cooperative as she was driven around York and Cumberland counties to confirm details about a total of 15 fires she had set, authorities said.
At one of those fires, on Sept. 15 in a barn on Doles Ridge Road in Limerick, firefighters had to take cover behind firetrucks as ammunition stored inside started to explode, according to court papers.
Perhaps the most severe fire was one that did $200,000 worth of damage to the Raymond Hill Baptist Church on July 26.
Field's attorney, J.P. DeGrinney, who represented her in a shoplifting case earlier this year, said she will plead not guilty and is entitled to be released on bail.
DeGrinney said Field's bail should be lowered to $50,000 surety, which would allow her to post her house to ensure she would show up for her next scheduled court appearance, on Dec. 23.
"She's a sweet old lady that would never harm anyone," DeGrinney said after the hearing. "It's fair to be concerned about the state of her mental health at this point in time."
Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche ruled that bail should remain high. He said there is no guarantee, given the possibility that Field has psychological problems, that she will not resume setting fires.
"Untreated and unsecured, whatever problems are existing for her could simply reoccur and someone else could be in jeopardy," Fritzsche said.
Field is being held in the York County Jail.
Most people accused of setting fires are young males with a history of fire-setting. Field would not have drawn suspicion without dogged detective work that included placing the tracking device on her car.
According to an affidavit prepared by Daniel Young, senior investigator with the state Fire Marshal's Office, investigators began probing a series of fires that started July 19 in Standish.
The fires initially were set in brush and later at back corners of buildings close to roads. Gasoline was used to start each fire, Young said.
The first break in the case came Sept. 16, when a vacant house burned in Limerick and a witness saw a blue Chevrolet Cavalier and a license plate number. The plate number did not correspond to such a car, but Cumberland County sheriff's deputies were asked to keep an eye open for a car matching that description in the Standish area.
Deputy Anthony Hovey was on patrol in Raymond two days later when he pulled over a blue Cavalier driven by Field, who had been seen stealing returnable cans and bottles from a recycling bin, the court papers said.
The license plate number was one digit off that of the vehicle seen in Limerick, but the plates were assigned to a different car. Field had her car towed home, but the lead gave investigators enough to obtain a search warrant allowing them to place the tracking device on her Cavalier.
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