A 14-year-old boy from Wappingers Falls was charged Saturday with felony arson for allegedly burning down a barn Wednesday, State Police said.
The boy and two other teenage friends walked to the barn, at 54 Quaker Rd., after Roy C. Ketcham High School let out for the day. While the other two watched, the suspect used a lighter to ignite a bale of hay inside the otherwise abandoned farm, State Police Inv. Eugene Donnelly said.
The flames spread quickly until the barn was enveloped, requiring the assistance of fire departments from Wappingers Falls, New Hackensack, Hughsonville and East Fishkill, as well as a fire investigation team from the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, police said.
The barn is on a large plot at the end of Quaker Road, a dead-end street, and neither the barn nor the farm had been used within the last several years, Donnelly said. The barn is only a few hundred feet from the high school, and police were able to get accurate descriptions of the three teenagers from witnesses who saw them running from the scene as the barn burned behind them, he said.
When they were questioned by police, the teenagers didn't offer any reason for the alleged arson.
"Kids being kids," Donnelly said.
He estimated the value of the destroyed barn at $150,000 or more.
The teenager was arrested Saturday and charged with third-degree arson, a felony. He was arraigned and scheduled to return to Dutchess County Family Court on April 25. Because the suspect is a juvenile, and because he could qualify for youthful offender status, State Police did not release his name or other identifying details. Under state law, teenagers who qualify for youthful offender status can have their criminal records sealed before reaching adulthood if they meet requirements set by the court.
State Police are still looking into the case and ask witnesses to call them at 845-298-0952.