110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Joe Crews
posted Jun 17, 2014 - 10:26:18am
An angry ex-boyfriend, enraged that his ex-girlfriend wasn’t home, is accused of burning down her rented house near DeLand last weekend, authorities said.
The suspect, Gregory Cunningham, 43, left the scene on his bicycle but was arrested about two hours later, said Volusia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Gary Davidson.
Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene on North Street, just off North Woodland Blvd., just after 6 p.m. Saturday, June 14, Davidson said. As firefighters doused the flames, a female resident in the home told deputies Cunningham came to the house, looking for his ex-girlfriend, who also lives there. She told Cunningham the ex wasn’t there and didn’t want to talk to him, anyway, Davidson said.
“That’s when an angry Cunningham entered the house and ordered the woman to get out,” he said. “She ran from the house, and as she turned back, the woman saw Cunningham holding a lit torch while pouring tiki-torch oil on some patio furniture. Next thing she knew, smoke was coming from the house and Cunningham was riding his bicycle down the street.”
The house sustained heavy fire and water damage, but no one was hurt.
“It burned all of the trees on the fence line,” a neighbor told The West Volusia Beacon on Monday. “It went up quickly. It was very clear someone set the fire on purpose.”
When the ex-girlfriend got home Saturday night, she told deputies Cunningham had been continuously trying to contact her since they broke up a week earlier.
“She also said that Cunningham had threatened to burn down her house in the past, but she didn’t think he was serious,” Davidson said.
When deputies located Cunningham about two hours later, he had a syringe of liquid methamphetamine in his pocket. During questioning, Cunningham screamed at an investigator and became aggressive, throwing a water bottle against the wall and resisting deputies who tried to restrain him.
Cunningham was charged with arson, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting an officer without violence and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail.
The next day, the ex-girlfriend told investigators that since she broke up with Cunningham and told him to stop communicating with him, he “has been repeatedly riding his bicycle up to her house, calling out to her from outside the house, calling and texting her and trying to get messages to her through third parties such as her roommate and friends,” Davidson said. “Based on her statements, the Sheriff’s Office has filed an additional criminal charge of aggravated stalking against Cunningham.”
As of Tuesday morning, June 17, Cunningham — who has an extensive arrest record dating back to 2003 — remained in custody in lieu of $17,750 in bonds.
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