Boy, 11, charged in Chester Twp. arson

The boy also faces charges for 3 home burglaries
February 24, 2009 3:43:53 PM PST
An 11-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in connection to an arson in Chester Township, Pa.The blaze broke out in the 1500 block of Rainer Road around 4:00 p.m. Monday, destroying two homes and damaging three others.

Police arrested the boy, and he gave a written statement to police in front of his parent confessing to the fire. He is now in juvenile detention in Lima.

As it turns out, the young suspect is not a stranger to the law.

Investigators at Chester Township Police don't know if the 11-year-old was trying to copycat the arson fire set in Coastesville, Pa.

What they do know is the the child was spotted by a person inside the home he admits he torched.

That child was recognized, police say, because he's a family friend.

"Obviously the kids needs help," said victim Brett Jennings. "I don't have any anger, really, towards the child. I just think he needs help."

Jennings and his family of five are now homeless. Workers were out at his house boarding up what's left of the place.

Police say the 11-year-old used a lighter to start a fire in a shed close to the home. Within moments, the fire spread Jennings' house and another next door.

"Believe it or not, we did have contact with the juvenile before. We're currently looking at him for a few burglaries in the area," said Capt. Kenneth Coalson of the Chester Township Police.

Jennings say that's what disturbs him the most about what happened here, and knowing the boy's family makes matters even worse.

After facing three recent burglary charges incidents in this neighborhood, the court system released the boy to the custody of his parents.

A woman seen at the child's home refused to talk to Action News.

Without insurance, Jennings say his family is in desperate need of help.

"What I have on is what I own. What my kids wore out of the fire is what they own, and what my wife wore to work is what she owns. We've got nothing," said Jennings.

For now, the Jennings family has one more night in a hotel paid for by the Red Cross. After that, he says he doesn't know how his family will start over again.

The boy was and still is awaiting court hearing for 3 home burglaries for which he was previously arrested.

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