Since the holidays, residents of suburban Plainfield, Ill. were on edge after five arsons in their community. Finally, after a two-month investigation and surveillance, police received a full confession from their primary suspect: a 12-year-old boy.
Police say they had long-suspected the Plainfield middle school student was behind the five fires that occurred between Dec. 25 and Jan. 8, but waited until they had irrefutable proof before placing him under arrest, according to Plainfield Patch.
"Very early in the investigation he was a suspect but we wanted to build a solid case against him," Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek told Patch. "We wanted to keep our minds open in case it wasn't him...We wanted to draw him out and catch him in the act."
The boy has been charged as a juvenile with five counts of arson, three counts of burglary to a motor vehicle and two counts of criminal damage to property, according to a press release from the Plainfield Police Department.
Plainfield residents living on Hazelwood reported feeling terrorized once it became apparent the fires were connected.
All of the fires took place over a two week period that began Christmas Day, and all five fires were started in unlocked vehicles parked on Hazelwood, the Chicago Tribune reported when the case was still open.
The fires caused serious damage. Police believe the most recent started around 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 8 in a vehicle parked inside an open garage, Fox Chicago reports. The fire spread to the attached town house, causing significant damage to the structure, though residents escaped unharmed.
That single incident caused an estimated $180,000 in damage, NBC Chicago reports.
Lisa Morris, whose house was the first to catch fire on Christmas morning, commented on Plainfield Patch that she was grateful the arsonist had been caught, but hoped his parents would also be held responsible:
"I am relieved they caught the kid whom claims he did start the fires, I am also angered at HIS FAMILY for not recognizing the child did not know right from wrong," Morris posted. "They need to know from me that they have all put my family and the other families that live on this street through hell."
The boy is currently in custody at the River Valley Juvenile Justice Center in Joliet.