Arson suspect released due to lack of evidence

YOUNGSTOWN — The man who was a suspect in a series of overnight arsons last week was released from police custody today because of lack of evidence, officials said.

Thirteen fires were set in a 20-hour period between last Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Spencer Morris Washington, 36, of Falls Avenue was expected to be arraigned on an arson charge this morning. He was a suspect in arsons at 343 Falls Ave. and 362 Breaden Ave., both owned at one time by his grandfather.

Officials say Washington still is a person of interest, and fire Chief John J. O’Neill, Jr. said the investigation is ongoing.

“With Washington, we had his father, who was one of the people talking about it, but we just didn’t have enough evidence that the prosecutor felt comfortable going forward,” O’Neill said.

Washington’s father, Spencer Morris, told investigators and the media that his son set the fire because Washington was angry with him. “He did it to get back at me,” Morris told The Vindicator last week.

The cost of fighting the string of arsons could add up to about $3,000 in overtime, officials said.

Anyone with information about the arsons is asked to call fire department’s arson bureau at 330-782-0055. Callers can remain anonymous.

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