Ralph Teenagers Accused of Series of Arsons in Tuscaloosa and Greene Counties
An 18-year-old and two juveniles are responsible for a recent string of structure fires and break-ins in rural Tuscaloosa and Greene Counties, according to court documents filed Monday.
In new depositions, TCSO investigators said they responded to three different fires in Ralph in less than six weeks and were aware of at least two more in neighboring Greene County.
TCSO has charged the 18-year-old with three counts of second-degree arson and two counts of third-degree burglary in connection to the cases, and additional charges are likely to follow in Greene County.
The other two suspects in the case are juveniles, and state law prevents law enforcement agencies from releasing many details about their involvement in criminal cases.
The first fire was set in early August, when an empty residence on Sipsey Valley Road was burned to the ground, but the teens were not identified as suspects until later.
The second fire came on September 10th, when the old Ralph Post Office was burglarized and burned. Police said someone broke into the USPS building on Ralph Loop Road, smashed windows, pulled down ceiling tiles, kicked holes in the wall and eventually set a stack of papers on fire that damaged one of the building's walls.
Finally, on September 14th, police responded to two fires in Greene County and a third on Highway 11 South in Ralph.
TCSO deputies had developed the three young people as suspects and interviewed them after the third fire. The 18-year-old allegedly admitted to driving the younger suspects around and a 16-year-old admitted to setting all five fires -- the three in Tuscaloosa County and both in Greene County.
Another juvenile, 15, was allegedly present at the first two arsons, but investigators said in court documents that they were mostly a bystander who filmed some of the fires.
The 18-year-old was charged with the five felonies and has been released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
Editor's note: the identity of the 18-year-old suspect in this case has been removed from this report after his family members said he has been diagnosed with a developmental disorder.