Melissa Topey, Daily News-Record, March 13, 2019
Tuesday’s fire in Tom’s Brook has been ruled an arson, and a reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to a conviction.
“This was a brutal crime,” said David Ferguson, Shenandoah County Fire marshal. “We are committed to closing this.”
He called it “brutal” because the fire occurred while members of the Ferris family were asleep at the home they rent at 3475 N. Main St. It appeared the fire was set on the front porch, which is below the bedrooms, he said. It then spread to the first and second floors.
Ferguson said Jason Ferris, his 16-year-old daughter and his 18-year-old son were asleep.
The home is uninhabitable at the moment, and the Ferris family is staying with family. She said she is not sure what the landlord of the home will do.
The family believes they have lost most everything.
A pit bull-boxer mix dog in the home also made it outside safely, Marilyn Ferris said.
Important evidence was collected on and off-site, Ferguson said.
A search warrant obtained for the property allowed investigators to collect several debris samples, part of a tire, siding, electrical and plastic components, as well as fingerprints, Ferguson said.
Fingerprints were discovered in a location that makes them crucial evidence, and other crucial evidence was collected as well, he said.
Another possible piece of evidence being investigated is graffiti drawn on a detached garage at the back of the property that read “(expletive) the conferacy.”
The family displayed an American flag and a Confederate flag at the home, Ferguson said, adding that the family told investigators the graffiti was not there when they went to bed that night.