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Cops: SUV torched outside murder suspect's home

Suffolk County police arson investigators probe suspicious vehicle

Suffolk County police arson investigators probe suspicious vehicle fire in the driveway of a home on Ferndale Boulevard in Central Islip. (Dec. 26, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

A sport-utility vehicle linked to a murder suspect was set on fire Wednesday night in front of his Central Islip home, two days after a neighbor's body was found in the suspect's bedroom closet, police said.

The fire, which started inside the Ford Explorer, was reported at about 5:50 p.m., according to Suffolk police.

Officers found a gas can on a front lawn at the scene on Ferndale Boulevard.

Police said the suspect, Aston Barth, has been known to drive the Ford, but did not say who owned it.

Barth, 33, an ex-convict, was arrested Monday and charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Jason Campbell, 35, who lived next door and had been missing since Dec. 18.

Campbell's body was found Monday by Barth's mother and brother in the home they shared, police said.

Barth, a convicted robber, told police he had argued with Campbell that day, choked him in his bedroom, wrapped him in a blanket, then stuffed him in his closet, prosecutors said.

One of Campbell's friends, Sean Epps, said he and others questioned Barth about the missing man, but he denied knowing anything about Campbell's whereabouts.

Barth, who has three prior robbery convictions, is being held without bail.

Detectives classified the vehicle fire as arson and were investigating. No injuries were reported.

Barth's family could not be reached for comment.

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