Arson suspect's best friend: I'm also a victim
Crime spree plagued Greenville neighborhood for three weeks
Greenville Police arrested 18-year-old Jaquanne Saunders in connection with three Wyndham Circle arsons Friday, as well as one burglary that allegedly targeted his best friend's home.
Increased police patrols led to Saunders' arrest Wednesday, after neighbors spotted the teenager leaving a home on Wyndham with $2,000 in electronics. Dillon Manning, 16, said Saunders broke into his home that night, even though the two have been friends since the third grade.
"I would never think that [Saunders] would turn on me," Manning said in an interview Friday. "We've been close for so long. It's just like, why would he do that to me when I've been his best friend through everything? And then he just turns around and hits me in the back."
Investigators also took 21-year-old Jasmine Spruill into custody as an accomplice. Sgt. Joe Friday of the Greenville Police Department said Spruill had no involvement in any of the arsons that began Aug. 30. She is suspected to have assisted Saunders in several Wyndham Circle burglaries.
"My pride is just gone. My life is just going downhill," Manning said. "But I've just got to pick myself back up."
Police do not anticipate any more arrests in the arson and burglary cases.
Police responded to the third arson in two weeks at the same neighborhood Monday afternoon, hitting an area of Greenville close to East Carolina University and the Tar River.
The latest incident happened after police said someone stole three pairs of Nike Air Jordan shoes and three jerseys from an apartment at 102 Wyndham Circle. A fire was then set inside the kitchen.
Arsonists struck Wyndham Circle on two other nights since Aug. 30 according to investigators.
In an interview with the latest victim Tuesday, the woman said arsonists broke into her aqpartment when she was at work, and the fire was made to appear like an accident.
"There were paper towels that were put on top of my stove and started to burn," the victim said. "My oven was turned on to broil, all the way up."
The fire may have looked accidental, but the victim said the only thing left to chance Monday afternoon was her nine-year-old son coming home from school early. The boy discovered the arson before fire could spread from the stove to the rest of the apartment.
"He saw the stove and got one of my friends," she said. "They called 911 and kept this place and my neighbors upstairs and next door from losing their homes."
Neighbors reported the two other Wyndham Circle arsons were started by similar suspicious stove fires.
The Gables at Brownlea Apartments is still damaged after a Sept. 3 arson. The flames started in 11-B Wyndham Circle, causing $10,000 in damage.
A vacant apartment at 215-B Wyndham Circle also suffered damage when it was broken into and torched Aug. 30.
The Sept. 10 arson victim hopes an arrest will be made soon, but has compassion for whoever is responsible for the crimes.
"It's something that's going to follow them for the rest of their lives, with their record," the woman said. "It's just scary there could be a child home at the next place they mess with, and someone could get killed."
No suspects have been named for any of the three arsons. The investigations remain ongoing.
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