A Fairfax County judge yesterday asked the two-star Army general standing before him if he could guarantee that his son, accused of arson in the $4.5 million fire that closed Fort Hunt High School, would show up next month in court.
"Yes, sir," said Maj. Gen. Thomas U. Greer, whose 19-year-old son Timothy was arrested Saturday and charged in the Dec. 30 arson that forced the relocation of 1,700 high school students.
"I suggest you put a curfew on him that keeps him home, period," said General District Court Judge Martin E. Morris before a crowded courtroom yesterday. "I don't want him wandering around."
The court session was the latest in a series of events that have left an image of a sometimes troubled school community.
Fort Hunt, widely known among students in the county as a "rich kids" school, is one of the most vandalized schools in Fairfax, according to William J. Shadle Jr., who keeps track of vandalism statistics for the school system.
The school had two major fires in 1975 that were attributed to arson, according to Lt. Richard Stone of the county fire marshal's office. There were 20 incidents of minor fires and false alarms last year, he said.
Timothy Greer, a 1978 graduate of Fort Hunt, was one of three suspects in the incident who appeared in court for a bond reduction hearing. Sitting side by side nearby were Matthew Musolino Jr., 18, a starting fullback for the past two seasons on the Fort Hunt football team, and Robert Smithwick, 18, a reserve forward on the Fort Hunt basketball team.
Morris warned Musolino's father, Matthew Sr., who owns Musso Service Station at 7400 Richmond Hwy., to make sure that his son does not "frolic around the community." The judge then released Musolino -- who was turned over to police by his parents on Sunday night -- and Greer in the custody of their fathers.
Smithwick, arrested last Friday before he was to play in a basketball game, was freed on $5,000 bail. Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Steven A. Merril unsuccessfully argued that Smithwick's bail should be higher because he said Smithwick admitted to setting the fire.
Smithwick, Greer and Musolino face jail terms of from two to 10 years if convicted of arson, according to Merril.
The arson has angered and upset students at Fort Hunt. According to Merril, students were instrumental last week in providing information leading to the arrests in what has been called the worst school fire in the history of the county.
In interviews yesterday, several Fort Hunt students gave details of what happened on the night of Friday, Dec. 29, and during the early morning hours on Saturday when the fire was set.
According to the students, who did not want to be identified, there was a party that Friday night at the home of Matthew Musolino, which was attended by about 40 teen-agers and where hard liquor, including Southern Comfort whiskey and rum, was available.
A 14-year-old Mount Vernon boy, who attended the party, said he left the Musolino house at 7407 Fordson Rd. at 11 p.m. to walk around the neighborhood. When he returned to the house at midnight, he said, the party was over and somwe older boys offered to drive him home.
The boy, whose mother did not want him identified, said he got into a car with two of the three youths arrested in connection with the Fort Hunt fire. Other youths at the party said the two boys in the car were Smithwick and Greer.
"The guys I was riding with said I got rowdy and they told me to get out of the car," the boy said.
Apparently more than words were involved because the youth, his mouth bleeding and his left shoulder strained, was found at about 2 a.m. by Fairfax police as he banged on the door of a Mount Vernon home.
Residents inside the house had called police because they suspected a burglar, according to police. The boy was treated at Mount Vernon Hospital and released to his parents.
Students at the school have said they understand the fire was started later that morning by persons who broke a window outside the principal's office, poured in gasoline and ignited it from outside.
While not commenting on that account, Merril said there is not evidence the school was entered before the fire.