Suspect in White Terrace Arson Held Without Bail
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield resident Joseph Stone was ordered detained without bail at the Berkshire County House of Corrections on Friday on a charge of repeated arson.
Stone, 43, is being held on dangerousness after he was arrested in relation to a fire Thursday at 8 White Terrace, a vacant multi-building apartment complex that suffered a three-alarm blaze the week before.
He was taken into custody on Thursday and arraigned on Friday in Central Berkshire District Court.
Stone was charged with one count of arson of a dwelling house and two counts of class B drug possession for having used paraphernalia on his person.
He is a suspect in the property's previous fire, which is still under investigation.
Stone was convicted for arson in 2004 and sentenced to 10-12 years after setting fire to a historic apartment building on the corner of Fenn Street and First Street that caused about $1 million in damages and caused the building to be demolished. He was originally perceived as a hero for helping tenants exit the building.
He set fire to the basement of the Fenn Street building with a lighter because he was "stressed out a lot at the people in the building" and was upset with the owners for not fixing things in his apartment, according to court documents.
At last week's fire, police said Stone fled the scene.
According to the probable cause report, on Sept. 16 around 2:15 p.m., Pittsfield Police were dispatched to a reported fire at the White Terrace complex and the reporting party said he saw "Stoney" fleeing the scene.
Several fire departments were able to extinguish the fire before it engulfed the whole building. Damage was done to the structure but no injuries were reported.
On the same afternoon before the fire, police officers say they saw Stone walking through the abutting Lipton Mart parking lot and it caught their attention because he was already named as a possible suspect for the Sept. 9 fire at the same location.
Stone was located panhandling at the intersection of South Street and East Housatonic Street, according to police. After being informed of his Miranda rights, he declined to speak to officers and decided to speak to an attorney.
Pittsfield Fire Department's investigative unit determined that Thursday's fire was suspicious in nature and appeared to be intentionally set.
Based on the facts, circumstances, and Stone's previous charges for arson, he was placed under arrest and charged with arson and Class B possession.
During booking, six lighters and two used crack pipes with residue in them were found on him, said police.
Video evidence was then obtained that police say showed Stone arriving at the fire scene around 1 p.m. and leaving around 2 p.m.
The Sept. 8 fire took multiple departments hours to control and injured four firefighters. The damage was extensive with major fire, heat, and smoke damage throughout the first and fourth floors and smoke damage throughout the second and third floors.