Alleged serial arsonist charged for Chesterfield house fire

Alleged serial arsonist arrested for house fire

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Prince George man is accused of setting a Chesterfield house on fire in June 2019, the first case of what appeared to be a string of arsons in the area.

David Elton Starke Jr., 25, was charged with one count of arson to an occupied dwelling, and breaking and entering with the intent to commit arson in connection to the fire on the 13100 block of Singer Road.

The arrest comes after a seven-month-long investigation by Chesterfield Police and the Chesterfield Fire Marshals Office.

On June 14, 2019, Chesterfield responded to a call for the house fire around 4 p.m., but the brick home was fully engulfed upon arrival.

“By the time we called 911 the house was engulfed in a matter of 5-10 minutes,” said Michael Tuck, who lives in the neighborhood. “It was just crazy how fast it went up in flames."

Starke was served warrants at Riverside Regional Jail earlier this week where he was being held on other charges. Authorities believe he is responsible for setting the Singer Road home ablaze.

"Just floored me when I saw that,” Tuck said. “Just couldn't believe it."

However, arson charges aren’t a new aspect for Starke. He faced an arson charge for several fires that happened in Prince George County 16 days after the Chesterfield house fire last June.

Prince George police were called to Touchstone Bank on Crossings Boulevard at 2 a.m. June 30, 2019, and found several fires burning around the building, which was extinguished by firefighters.

While investigating those fires, another fire was reported at Baileys Ridge Apartments. Residents were able to put out that fire, which started in a stairwell.

[ Prince George man charged in 2 arson incidents ]

“My wife and my mother were just all talking about what goes through a person's mind when they become infatuated with destruction through arson and stuff like that," Tuck said.

Starke was convicted in December 2019 on the Prince George charges. He was also found guilty in Dinwiddie County in January on other arson charges. He’s expected to be sentenced in both counties in March.

Now, he’ll await trial in a Chesterfield courtroom for his arson charges connected to the home on Singer Road.

“I don’t know what his punishment should be, but I hope he gets what’s due justice for him,” Tuck said.

Meanwhile in January, the Chesterfield family had to demolish their home they built back in the ’90s.

"You lost your childhood memories, you just lost everything,” Tuck said. “I’m sure it was devastating on that aspect… At least he has closure on this. It’s probably not the closure nobody was wanting.”

While the plot of land remains empty, friends of the family said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I do know Jimmy was wanting to move to Amelia so that just sped up the process on getting out there,” Tuck said.

Starke is being held at Riverside Regional Jail on no bond.

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