Mother says her son is not an arsonist

February 20, 2009 4:56:15 AM PST
The mother of a young man arrested for arson says authorities are accusing the wrong person.On Thursday, 19-year-old Roger Leon Barlow, Jr. was arrested and charged with setting nine arson fires in Coatesville, Pa., a community plagued by a number of intentionally set infernos.

Police say Barlow admitted to the crimes.

Outside the family home on West Pennsylvania Avenue in Downingtown, Lorraine Barlow says her son, Roger, is a mentally challenged student. She also says he's the son of a Thorndale firefighter and a student at Universal Technical Institute in Exton.

She's adamant that her son is not an arsonist. She says he goes to school, learning to be a diesel mechanic.

She believes investigators are trying to pin the crimes on her son because he has a handicap.

"He has a learning disability. He's a little bit slower learner than others," Lorraine Barlow said.

When she learned her son was being charged with arson, she says she didn't understand why. She referred to his progress report from Universal Technical Institute.

"Attendance rate: 98.21%, B average student, in Exton, the whole other direction. Coatestville is in that direction," Lorraine Barlow said, pointing the opposite way.

She continued, "My son is home at 8:30, has dinner, and goes to bed. Has a girlfriend, has a life going on for him, he goes to see his girlfriend on the weekends. Now, all of a sudden, they're trying to put him in a place he probably wasn't even at."

While authorities say Roger Barlow has admitted to setting nine fires in Coatesville, his mother says he was set up by a friend, a volunteer firefighter.

That friend, she says, served time in prison.

Action News is working to verify that claim.

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