Search continues for Coatesville arsonist

January 28, 2009 9:02:14 PM PST
People in Coatesville, Pa. can expect some changes as police try to find whoever is responsible for arsons that are terrorizing the small town.A meeting went on for almost three hours Wednesday night in which a number of topics were covered, most significantly how much progress they're making in solving this case and zeroing in on the person or persons responsible.

Accordingly, Chester County D.A. Joe Carroll would not be specific about what law enforcement is doing to catch those responsible, but he says "they're not completely in the dark."

"We have, as I say, generally speaking, things that we are working on that I'm hopeful will lead to solving these offenses," Carroll said.

From the residents themselves, officials got a vivid picture of the real terror that so many of them are living with and why as some put it, the city needs to be more pro-active.

A number of residents urged City Council to implement an all out curfew, but officials suggested that Federal experts do not want a curfew just now.

There was a scare Tuesday night after a fire started in a trash can at the bottom of a stairway next to a home in the 500 block of Coates Street.

Neighbors say they heard a loud noise just before the fire was discovered.

The ATF says it thinks the noise came from an aerosol can exploding in the fire. They also believe the fire was deliberately set.

Fire victim Katherine Bowman escaped with her life, but little else, in the Saturday night blaze in which 15 homes were destroyed.

On Wednesday, she was trying on a donated winter coat, and reflecting on the person who is terrorizing her community.

"I just hope authorities get him before the Coatesvillians get him, because I don't think they have a chance if they do," Bowman said.

There are a number of agencies and good Samaritans that have come forward to assist the victims with housing, clothing, and even cash, but they are still a few apartments short to house displaced residents in the long term.

Offers of donations have been coming in from as far as California. Donors Tom Quinn and Lisa McCulley of Malvern brought not just clothes and bedding, but tables and a microwave.

"Most Americans have too much stuff anyway, and the house looks great without all that furniture," McCulley said. "And it's a great cause, and it's going locally."

While everyone in Coatesville appreciates the donations, they ask anyone who may be bringing bulky items to please call ahead. That way arrangements can be made to store the items, because new homes for that furniture are not ready yet.

Reward Fund

A reward fund has been set up to help catch those responsible for the fires. Contributions can be sent to:

Citadel Federal Credit Union
Coatesville Reward Fund
Attn: Office Manager
135 Modena Road
Coatesville, PA 19320

Another fund has been set up to help the people affected by the fires. Donations can be sent to:

Citadel Federal Credit Union
Coatesville Family Fund
Attn: Office Manager
135 Modena Road
Coatesville, PA 19320

The Brandywine Health Foundation announced on Monday it was contributing $10,000 to the Coatesville Family Fund. They're urging others to donate as well.

Phone Numbers:

Coatesville Police Hotline: (610) 636-0514

Citizen's Crime Commission: 215-546-TIPS

Crimestoppers: 1-800-4-PA-TIPS.

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