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Two more arrested in Maryland fires

Court papers say three other suspects admit involvement

Homes in an upscale development burn in the largest residential arson in Maryland history.
Real Estate

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Authorities on Monday arrested two more suspects in a series of house fires blamed on arson in suburban Washington, bringing the total charged in the case to six, a statement from the task force investigating the case said.

All six of the suspects know each other, according to court documents.

Roy T. McCann, age 22, of Marbury, Maryland, and Michael E. Gilbert, age 21, of Fort Washington, were arrested on charges of arson in connection with the fires at the Hunters Brooke development in Charles County, Maryland.

The fires, discovered in the pre-dawn hours of December 6, torched 45 houses in the subdivision and caused an estimated $10 million in damage.

Three men arrested over the weekend in connection with the fires allegedly admitted their involvement to federal investigators, according to court papers released Monday.

An affidavit from an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the three suspects made the statements in interviews with investigators in the days following the fires, which authorities ruled were arson.

The case moved ahead after the arrest Thursday of Aaron Speed, who was hired as a security guard at the Hunters Brooke neighborhood. Speed, who failed an initial polygraph test, later admitted involvement, according to court papers. He faces a detention hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The three men arrested over the weekend were Patrick Walsh, Jeremy Parady and Michael Everhart. Each is accused of maliciously damaging to destroy and attempting to damage and destroy the homes by fire and conspiracy.

In court appearances Monday, Magistrate Judge Charles Day ruled all three should be held for detention hearings Thursday. Speed's detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The father of Patrick Walsh told CNN his son is innocent, and that he is praying for his release to celebrate Christmas with his family.

During an interview in the days that followed the fires, investigators asked Walsh what would happen if trained dogs indicated the presence of accelerants in his car. He is quoted as replying, "then I guess you got me," according to the court documents.

A subsequent test then found accelerants in two vehicles owned by Walsh, court papers say. The investigator who filed the affidavit supporting the charges said Walsh could not explain the discoveries.

Jeremy Parady allegedly told investigators he "was to serve as 'wheels,'" and joined Walsh, Speed, Everhart and others at a fast food parking lot to gather containers of gasoline, kerosene and a drum containing an unknown liquid.

Parady, according to the affidavit from ATF Special Agent Chris Trainor, said the group was equipped with matches, highway flares and butane torches to light the fluids.

Speed, in an interview with investigators, suggested the plan to burn down the houses was Parady's, according to the documents filed Monday. Investigators then turned their attention to Parady.

Michael Everhart allegedly told investigators that he knew the fires were being planned and that he was present when the fires were set. But investigators also quote Everhart as saying he did not know the fires were going to be set that night, when the group arrived at the neighborhood, and he left before any of the sites were on fire.

Everhart allegedly claimed he saw Walsh, Speed, Parady and "others of his acquaintance" pouring what he thought was paint thinner on the ground near the houses.

Parady allegedly acknowledged being the driver and went on to describe how the other suspects now in custody got out of the car, took the containers out of the trunk, and kicked in the front doors of houses. The liquids were then poured inside, with a trail back out the front door where the materials were ignited, according to Trainor's affidavit.

The pattern continued as the group drove through the neighborhood. Parady allegedly told investigators a second vehicle and several other friends were also present at the site and also participated in setting fires.

The task force investigating the case is made up of members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal and the Charles County Sheriff's Office.

The maximum penalty for arson is 20 years in prison.

CNN's Paul Courson and Jonathan Wald contributed to this report.

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