- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2001

Federal and county authorities are trying to determine if a Manassas, Va., man who is accused of blowing up a house last month is responsible for as many as 50 arson fires in Prince William and Prince Georges counties.
Larry Riggles, 51, was arrested April 22 and charged with setting a fire that day that destroyed an abandoned house in Manassas. Prince William County investigators, working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), have linked him to 20 other arson fires in the county, said fire department Battalion Chief Steve Strawderman.
"Were kind of working in digression, backing up," Chief Strawderman said.
ATF helped county investigators develop a profile of the arsonist and are providing resources to determine if Mr. Riggles was involved in other unsolved arson cases.
Mr. Riggles is being held without bond in Prince William County on numerous of arson-related felony charges. An investigation that could bring further charges is ongoing, and no trial date has been set.
But the charges against Mr. Riggles dont end there. Prince Georges County fire officials say he may be responsible for as many as 50 fires there.
"The fires he set, starting in October 2000, started out small and involved outside trash and debris. Soon the fires escalated to automobiles and eventually to structures," Prince Georges County fire officials said in a statement.
Prince Georges County police had arrested Mr. Riggles on March 18 in an investigation of multiple fires in Oxon Hill and Clinton, but he was released on bond.
Little is known about Mr. Riggles. Charging documents indicate he was born in the District and list his profession as "retired." The documents identify no relatives.
A neighbor yesterday said Mr. Riggles has lived alone in his Manassas home for about 15 or 20 years and said he may be receiving disability benefits.
"I dont see that hes after harming anyone at this point," Chief Strawderman said.
The chief would not comment on charges in court records by investigators in the fire marshals office that Mr. Riggles is a serial arsonist. He said deeper investigations and interviews will determine that.
Mr. Riggles first became a suspect after Prince William County police found him at the scene of two separate fires just hours apart on March 5. The first was behind a Carpet Gallery store on Sudley Road in Manassas, where carpet scraps were set ablaze. The second involved an abandoned truck fire in a parking lot five miles away.
No one was hurt in any of the fires linked to Mr. Riggles, authorities said. Mr. Riggles has conceded to being at the scene of several of the blazes but denied responsibility.
The most serious fire Mr. Riggles is accused of setting occurred at an abandoned house in the 7200 block of Jacksonville Avenue and caused about $13,000 damage.
Fire officials say Mr. Riggles broke into the Manassas house about 8:50 p.m. and used an accelerant to light the fire. Witnesses provided fire crews with a description of a primer-gray and red 1977 Ford pickup with Virginia plates.
Half an hour later, the same truck was spotted a mile and a half away outside a Home Depot on Stream Walk Lane, where witnesses say Mr. Riggles used a tire jack to break the side window of a 2000 Dodge Neon, police said. A Home Depot baseball cap was taken. Police stopped Mr. Riggles nearby in a Kmart parking lot, where witnesses identified him. made a positive identification.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide