Feds Charge Teens in Greeneville, Tennessee Fire

August 4, 2008

Federal authorities charged two Greeneville, Tennessee teenagers on Aug. 1 in a fire that destroyed a century-old tobacco warehouse and threatened the home of President Andrew Johnson.

Matthew Keith Rose and Jory Ramiriz, both 18, were charged with maliciously destroying the warehouse and attempting to damage property owned by the National Park Service.

Police Capt. Terry Webb said Rose and Ramiriz were “looking for a place to burn,” The Greeneville Sun reported.

It was not immediately known if the two had attorneys.

Webb said investigators found cell phone photos of Rose with a Molotov cocktail just before the early July 31 fire that destroyed the recently renovated warehouse.

Webb said the teens had no known connection with the owner of the warehouse, Kent Bewley.

“For lack of a better term, it was the unluck of the draw (for Bewley),” Webb said.

Heat from the fire burned trees on the grounds of the adjacent Andrew Johnson Homestead, which was closed Aug. 1. Firefighters saved the structure.

The federal charges against the suspects carry a mandatory term of five to 20 years, a $250,000 fine and restitution, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reeves. There is no parole in the federal system.

On the Web: www.greenevillesun.com

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