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Man Arrested In Connection To July 4th Camden Fires

by Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHA (CBS) -- The Camden County Police Department has a person in custody in connection with a rash of 16 arson fires over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

Camden Fire Chief Michael Harper says it's amazing that 44-year-old Charles E. Ricks Jr. has been arrested and charged with 14 counts of aggravated arson, because only 2% of arson crimes are ever solved.

"It's unprecedented to get an arrest that fast; but with the new technology now, cameras, and then you have people with cameras, and then you start tying that all together, it's like the movie enemy of the state! Everywhere you run, there's a camera on you and you can kinda pinpoint where somebody is!" said Harper.

Captain Richard Verticelli, investigative division commander says officers worked nonstop first to get a description from neighbors, then to get surveillance video.

"There was hundreds of hours that we had to review; most of it, you're not seeing anything until you actually get the suspect in your lens," he said.

Once arrested, police says Ricks confessed. Chief Harper says he's incredibly relieved:

"He went from one fire to the next. It got to the point where I actually had to start telling the companies that they couldn't go on any more runs because they were physically exhausted."

There is no known motive yet, but Chief Harper says there's many reasons why some are driven to arson.

"Some people do arson for profit, some people do it for joy, some people do it for other things, revenge, you never know," he said.

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