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Firefighter Is Among Those Charged in Md. Arson Case

During the same interview with local investigators and agents from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the affidavit says, Speed told investigators that one of his 10-week-old twin sons had died accidentally in April and that he quit the security company in anger over its "indifference" to his loss. (Law enforcement sources yesterday said that Speed told them the child suffocated when his sleeping mother rolled over on him as he lay in his parents' bed.) Frustrated by the low pay of a convenience store job, Speed resumed working as a guard for the security company, and it was in that capacity that he came to the Hunters Brooke subdivision.

The affidavit says Speed was working an overnight shift at another property guarded by Security Services on the day of the fires, but he had repeated cell phone conversations with a colleague who was on duty at Hunters Brooke.

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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Guard Charged In Md. Arsons (The Washington Post, Dec 17, 2004)
U.S. Prosecution Is Likely for Md. Mass Arson Case (The Washington Post, Dec 16, 2004)
Ecology Terrorism Doubted In Arsons (The Washington Post, Dec 15, 2004)
11 More Houses Were Targeted In Md. Arsons (The Washington Post, Dec 9, 2004)
Arson Brings Battle Over Bog to Surface (The Washington Post, Dec 8, 2004)
Developer Plans to Rebuild Houses (The Washington Post, Dec 8, 2004)
Arson Turns A Dream Into Dread (The Washington Post, Dec 8, 2004)
Charles County Fires

More than two full pages of the affidavit are devoted to comparing the exact times when Speed said those calls occurred with records provided by the cell phone company, but that account could be summarized simply: The times don't match up.

Phone records also were used to track Speed's whereabouts. The affidavit says he initially told investigators he left his job site, at the Wakefield Apartments in Waldorf, at 3 a.m. and went to the small house on Copley Avenue in Waldorf that he shares with his wife, the surviving twin and two children from his wife's previous relationship.

Nextel cell phone records, which indicate the specific tower that transmits every call, provided investigators with a different picture of his travels during the critical time period, according to the affidavit.

At 3:05 a.m., his call went through a tower near his home. Sixteen minutes later, however, a call went through the White Plains tower, the affidavit says, "consistent with . . . movement of the cell phone towards the fire scene."

Another call, at 5:05 a.m., also placed him well north of his home, contradicting his statement that he had been home during the four-hour time frame that the affidavit says "encompasses/includes the estimated time of the arson/fire ignition."

The affidavit, which was signed by FBI Special Agent G. Joseph Bradley, offered no information about Speed's alleged motive other than the hint of his frustration with his employer.

Damage caused by the fires has been estimated at $10 million.

The affidavit also says that Speed once told a co-worker that he was a firefighter.

About two months ago, Speed went on a ride-along to a house fire in Prince George's County with the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, according to Robert Small, the volunteer unit's chief. He said Speed inquired about joining the department but never returned.

Speed's flirtation with the Clinton fire company came after an unsuccessful attempt to sign on with the Potomac Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Charles County last year.

Brian Phillips, deputy fire chief of the department, said Speed first expressed interest in joining the department on June 12, 2003.

"He came around a couple of times, expressing this extreme interest in joining the fire department, and then he just suddenly stopped coming," Phillips said.

After he failed to show up for a required interview, the three-member panel that approves new members rejected his application, Phillips said.

John Fredrickson, a lawyer for the Hunters Brooke developer, said it was "premature" to consider legal action against Speed's employer, Security Services of America, until a conviction had been made in the case.

If legal action was taken, he said, it was more likely to come from Miami-based Lennar Corp., the home builder on the project.

"The fires destroyed the homes, and the builder would have the cause of action if there was one," he said.

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