Posted at: 09/06/2012 11:01 AM
| Updated at: 09/07/2012 9:58 AM
By: Abigail Bleck
EAST GREENBUSH - Four teenagers are now being charged with starting a fire that destroyed a farmhouse in East Greenbush last Wednesday.
Police say the vacant building was a historical landmark.
The 100-acre property at the end of Start Avenue is now fenced off, but neighbors say it's been open territory for trespassers for years.
"There's kids back there, cars going back, three wheelers," explained Start Avenue resident Deberah DiMartino. "I'm not surprised something happened."
"Something" was a raging fire last Wednesday night that demolished the 17th Century Kospa family farmhouse. East Greenbush Police claim four local teenagers torched it, as part of a prank. Three are going unnamed because of their ages, but the fourth is 16-year-old Columbia High School student Thomas Snyder.
"They found a vacant farmhouse with no power or electricity and no cause of physics to explain (the fire) other than a deliberate human act," East Greenbush Police Chief Christopher Lavin said.
Investigators credit Start Avenue residents for helping them make the arrests. According to police, neighbors were able to describe the kids who were back there that night, what they were wearing and even the bikes they were riding.
"We have a very public safety conscious community," added Lavin.
The case against Snyder will proceed in Rensselaer County criminal court. The three minors, who also face felonies, are charged in family court.
Now that the fire is out and, police believe, the case is closed, residents say they just want their neighborhood calm to return.
"I hope it (all the activity) comes to a stop," said DiMartino.
Lavin says the parents of the teens who were arrested all cooperated, which helped their investigation.