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Firefighter Is Among Those Charged in Md. Arson Case

By Sari Horwitz, Eric Rich and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, December 18, 2004; 5:05 PM

Law enforcement authorities arrested and charged three more people this morning in connection with the early-morning arson fire that engulfed a new housing subdivision in Charles County last week.

Among them was a man listed as a member of a volunteer fire department that responded to the blaze.

Affidavit signed by FBI agent in support of criminal complaint against Aaron L. Speed.
_____Photo Gallery_____
Md. Arson: Ten homes were destroyed and 16 damaged, resulting in an estimated $10 million in destruction to the new subdivision.
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Charles County Fires

The United States Attorney's office in Baltimore confirmed the arrests, which came on top of charges brought earlier during the week against a security guard, Aaron L. Speed, hired to protect construction sites in the development.

Authorities identified the men as Patrick Stephen Walsh, 20, of Fort Washington, Jeremy Daniel Parady, 20, of Accokeek and Michael McIntosh Everhart, 20, of Waldorf. They said the three Maryland men were all acquaintances of Speed's. All were charged with arson.

Parady, like Speed, had an interest in volunteer firefighting. He is listed on the web site of the Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department as a "riding member." Personnel from the Accokeek station were dispatched to the fire at 5:08 a.m..

It is not known whether Parady was part of the crew that responded that morning. Firefighters at the station declined to talk to a reporter on Saturday, saying they had been instructed to make no comment.

The website also indicates that Parady was a member in good standing. He was part of a crew that received "congratulations and a good job" for their work at an Oct. 23 call to a home where a woman was suffering from a drug overdose.

Members of the Clinton and Potomac Heights volunteer departments said this week that Speed expressed interest in joining about two months ago but never followed up.

Another of the men had earlier been identified as someone who had been rejected for a job by Lennar Corp., the developer of the houses.

A Federal magistrate Friday ordered Speed to be held pending a hearing Tuesday.

The arson charge that landed Speed in a federal courtroom yesterday was brought because he repeatedly tripped over his own story in accounting for his whereabouts during the early-morning hours when fire engulfed 10 new homes in a Charles County subdivision.

Using contradictory statements Speed gave reporters and investigators, and tracking his movements by pinpointing the cell phone towers that handled his calls, authorities successfully confronted Speed with his deceptions on Thursday, according to a federal affidavit. He admitted that he was "present" when the fires were set, the court document said.

As the federal magistrate ordered Speed held without bail, a picture emerged yesterday from documents and interviews of a man who was deeply troubled by the death of his infant son, frustrated in his effort to become a volunteer firefighter and unhappy with the security service that employed him.

Speed, 21, appeared to avoid eye contact with his pregnant wife, Tamara, and other family members during a brief appearance yesterday in U.S. District Court. Wearing a black T-shirt bearing an image of a skeleton and the phrase "Dead Stroke," he responded respectfully as Magistrate Judge William Connelly advised him of his rights and granted his request for a public defender.

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