Deputies make arrest in investigation of multiple fires - WNCT

Deputies make arrest in investigation of multiple fires

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Deputies say they've arrested a man after a two-year investigation into multiple fires in Pitt and Beaufort counties.

On March 13, deputies with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office arrested 46-year-old Albert Jeffery Manning and charged him with five counts of Burning of Certain Buildings and Failure to Register as Sex Offender. He is a convicted felon with a lengthy record that dates back to the '80s.

The series of fires happened at abandoned properties in Southern Pitt County; December, 2011 - 7853 County Home Road; December 27, 2012 – 5546 Leary Mills Road; December 28, 2012 – 7688 County Home Road; February 7, 2013 – 7943 County Home Road; and February 10, 2013 – 4818 NC 102 East.

Investigators say Manning could be placed at several of the fire locations just moments before they were reported. 

"Some people just love the excitement of watching stuff burn, the excitement of hearing a fire truck come, and oftentimes, it's been connected that people that have high sexual desires like some sex offenders, they like seeing fire," Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks says.

After he was picked up Wednesday, deputies say Manning confessed to setting all five fires, plus another two in Beaufort County. 

"One of his defenses when we asked him why he was doing that, in his mind, he said he was 'cleaning up the neighborhood,'" Elks says.

A "neighborhood cleanup" that Elks says put firefighters' lives in danger.

"That's one thing we're saddened about, is so many lives have been at stake here with his little games he was playing with the so-called neighborhood cleanup," he says.

Manning is in the Pitt County Detention Center under a $35,000 secured bond.

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