Okeechobee teen arrested; Investigators believe he may be a serial arsonist

Okeechobee teen primary suspect in numerous arsons

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - It was the end of February when homes and brush started to spark fire in one Okeechobee County community and neighbors started to worry their homes would be next.

A total of 9 fires were started in a span of three weeks in February and March, leaving neighbors sleeping with one eye open.

There were neighboring nightmares on NE 30th Terrace, in the Pine Ridge Park  community,  both gutted from flames.

"It's not even my place, but it's still a horrible feeling somebody is doing it purposely," Daniel Lamb who lives next door to the charred homes said.

After 1072 NE 30th Terrace was intentionally set on fire on February 27, the neighborhood started to panic.

"There's not a feeling that you can express to say that you don't feel safe sleeping in your own home," Cara Close said. "You don't know, everything that you've collected, memorabilia could all be burned."

Similar things that were lost when their neighbors homes burned.

Tuesday, investigators arrested 18-year-old Dallas Wayne Parker for burning the home addressed 1072 NE 30th Terrace.

At this time, Parker is only charged with setting that  fire.  

"Even with the arrest we made yesterday I can't go back and give those people pictures," State Fire Marshal Detective Gregory Gilkey said. "I can't go back and give them furniture.  I can't give them back lifelong belongings they've had."

The suspect has been charged with one of the arsons, but Detective Gilkey said now the work starts to try and find who intentionally set the other fires.

"As far as suspect list goes he's number one on the list until we develop anybody else that may come forward in interviews," Gilkey said. "He's the primary suspect."

News of Parker's arrest eases the minds of Lamb and Close.  Detectives are investigating whether Parker attempted to set their home on fire.  
"I ran out to see what it was and we smelled something burning and the bin was on fire," he said about the alleged attempt in late February.

While Parker isn't charged with their torching their home, the couple is sleeping easier.

"We slept a good eight hours," Close said. "Both of us, so I guess it was a really good thing (to have him caught)."

Detectives hope to announce more charges or arrests in the upcoming weeks, they said.

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