Psychologist Provides Insight into Accomack County Arsonist - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Local Psychologist Provides Insight into Accomack County Arsonist


ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va.- With the arson count now at 48 in Accomack County, many are asking, "why?" WBOC sat down with a local psychologist Tuesday, who said this kind of serial arson behavior does not follow the norm.

The most common reason behind arson is normally profit, with individuals setting buildings on fire for insurance purposes. But that clearly does not follow the pattern of what is going on in Accomack County.

From Oak Hall to Painter, and virtually everywhere in between, the normally quiet communities of Accomack County have been set ablaze with worry and frustration, and fires left and right.

"Every time we turn around, they've got fires burning here," lamented one woman in Withams.

Dr. Kathryn Seifert is a psychologist practicing in Salisbury. She said the reason behind a serial arsonists actions can vary, from mental illness and substance abuse to the result of a toxic combination.

"Usually, it's someone who has a lot of problems and it's someone who either is looking for power," Seifert explained. "They have power over the environment if they can destroy it, or it's someone with a criminal background who's just wanting to stir people up and be criminal."

As for who might be setting these fires, Seifert said arsonists typically fit certain characteristics.

"Most often, it's a teenaged male. Older, teenaged male, who has been in trouble with the law in the past."

According to Seifert, a compulsive fire setter generally has a history of setting fires in the past.

She said there may be an explanation for why whoever is responsible for the Accomack County arsons keeps getting away with it.

"It may be somebody who has background or knowledge of how fires are investigated, may have knowledge about police investigations and how they go about them, so they know what to hide," Seifert noted.

According to police, more than one person may be involved in these cases, and they are not ruling out copycats.

While no arrests have been made at this point, police said they are following active leads. A reward of $5,000 is being offered for any information leading to an arrest.

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