A 13-year-old girl who was wanted in connection with two arson fires in Harrisburg last week–turned herself over to police on Monday, police said. The juvenile and her mother arrived at the Harrisburg City police station late in the afternoon. Police say the teen is charged with arson, risking a catastrophe, criminal conspiracy and violating curfew.
The girl was originally supposed to surrender to police on Friday.
She was taken to the Dauphin County Booking Center for processing and then released back into the custody of her mother.
“It’s case by case. A couple of different factors go into it,” said Dauphin County Senior Deputy District Attorney Johnny Baer. “In this instance, however, it’s my understanding that the city police made the initial decision not to have her detained and released to her mother. However, that is subject to change. The juvenile probation office, (or) our office can make the call at any time that she be detained.”
Investigators say the Dauphin County Juvenile Probation Department will take over her case.
Two 18-year-old women, Alexis Poteat and Aliah Alli, have already been charged in connection with the fires that damaged several homes along the 2000 block of Susquehanna Street and the 2100 block of Penn Street last week.
Baer said should the juvenile be found guilty, she could be responsible for paying restitution to the victims. Her parents legally would not be responsible for that, though Baer points out as a practical matter relatives often handle those expenses.
James Young lives on Susquehanna Street and was working Tuesday on cleaning up the mess in his house.
“The third story is basically trashed,” said Young. “The ceiling collapsed because of the weight of the water.
He and his wife made it safely out of the house. His family’s six cats eventually got out as well. Since the fire, two have taken off, Young said.
Young mentioned he had been working on a manuscript about a union in Erie that he was close to finishing the day the fire broke out. He was able to save his work but lost some of the research material he had gathered.
“I’m relieved that those particular people won’t be free to be doing this again soon. That was a concern, that as long as they remained at large, perhaps they were encouraged to continue,” said Young.
The fires left 18 people homeless. Young said his insurance company has paid for him and his wife to stay at a motel for now.