Man charged in arson of homes Gov. McMaster owns near USC identified by Columbia police | The State

thestate | 5/14/2019 | Staff
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A man who police believe is responsible for setting fires at two houses owned by Gov. Henry McMaster Tuesday morning attempted to set a third one, according to Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook.

The third fire, however, did not take, Holbrook said. It was unclear if the third house was owned by McMaster.

Man - Frank - John - Wilberding - Police

The man was identified as Frank John Wilberding, police tweeted. Wilberding has been charged with two counts of second-degree arson and possession of a controlled substance (Schedule IV), which was identified as Xanax, police said in a news release.

Police tweeted they detained Wilberding in connection with the fires near the University of South Carolina campus just before noon, with assistance from SLED. All three homes were on or near Greene Street between Five Points and the campus.

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Holbrook and Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins spoke in front of the two houses that the fire made uninhabitable after causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. Authorities received video that they say indicates the man started the fire.

Videos - Evidence - Fires - Holbrook

“Some of those videos contain some evidence about how we think the fires were set,” Holbrook.

Wilberding was arrested after he was spotted walking near the crime scene, police said in the news release. Police do not believe he had an accomplice, according to the news release.

Police - Information - Wilberding - Holbrook - Investigators

Police have released little information about Wilberding. It’s believed he lived nearby, Holbrook said. Investigators didn’t know Tuesday afternoon if the suspect knew the people in the house, nor did they know they know the motivation for starting the fire.

Early Tuesday afternoon, police officers and SLED agents were seen at a home near Henderson and Greene streets, not far from the...
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