Search Warrants In Maryland Fire Investigation Return Torch, Map, Documents

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) -- Federal investigators found a propane torch and a map of the Hunters Brooke housing development in the home of one of the men accused of setting fire to the neighborhood last month, according to federal court documents made public Tuesday.

Inventories from search warrants executed in late December show authorities removed computers, floor mats, note pads and various documents from the homes and vehicles of some of the six suspects charged with arson.

During a search of the Waldorf home of Aaron Speed Dec. 15, the FBI removed a BernzOmatic propane torch, a 5-gallon bucket used for a sheetrock joint compound, a map of home sites at Hunters Brooke and a notebook titled ``Safety Course for Firing Site Laboratory Personnel.''

Speed, 21, worked as a security guard at the Indian Head development. According to federal affidavits, he told authorities during a Dec. 10 interview the fires could hypothetically be set by pouring accelerant on the houses and lighting it with a ``hand held propane torch.''

Speed's attorney, federal public defender John Chamble, would not comment Thursday on the search warrants.

Two law enforcement sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators also found a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, which includes instructions on setting fires, at the Fort Washington home of the alleged ringleader, Patrick Walsh. The results of that search were not among the documents released Tuesday by the U.S. District Court.

``It's a cookbook on how to make bombs and set fires,'' according to one source, who added it is not unusual for investigators to find the book during criminal investigations. ``But it's not illegal to own it.''

Walsh's attorney, William Purpura, said the search warrant does not specifically say the book was found.

``There is nothing in there which indicates affiliation with any anarchist groups,'' he said.

Investigators removed carpeting and floor mats from Speed's Chevy Blazer and a 3-foot wide section of the front seat cushion of a Chevy Lumina van owned by suspect Michael Everhart's parents. At Michael Gilbert's house, they found a photo of two suspects wearing women's clothes.

Everhart, Walsh, Speed, Roy McCann and Jeremy Parady were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of arson, conspiracy to commit arson, and aiding and abetting the arsons. Gilbert, has been charged with arson but was not indicted. He has a detention hearing scheduled for next week.

Authorities believe the men set fire to dozens of homes in the Charles County development Dec. 6, causing $10 million in damage. Almost all the houses were still under construction and no one was hurt.

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