Arsonist accused of starting multiple wildfires left cigarette butts and sneaker prints, authorities say
A 32-year-old New Jersey man accused of starting 25 wildfires in Ocean County between May and January has been arrested in part because he left cigarette butts and footprints behind, said authorities.
A months-long investigation that culminated in the arrest of Gregory P. Fullman on January 31 was also aided by residential surveillance cameras and finally tracking devices that investigators placed on two of the Manchester residents’ vehicles , according to a probable cause affidavit.
Fullman is charged with 25 counts of second-degree arson by the Ocean County District Attorney’s Office and remains in custody in the Toms River County Jail on Tuesday, according to online records. No one was injured in the fires.
The largest fire allegedly started by Fullman was the first – a blaze in the Bass River State Forest along the Ocean County-Burlington County line that consumed 617 acres in mid- may.
While investigating this massive fire, investigators found 16 half-cut brown cigarette filters, two packs of empty Marlboro 100 packets and a Bang Rainbow Unicorn energy drink which, based on evidence, had only recently been left behind. in the woods. The following day, investigators learned that the cigarettes had been sold at a Wawa based on the tax stamps affixed to them. A few days later, officials determined that the cigarettes and an energy drink were purchased from Wawa in Tuckerton.
Then, on August 11, authorities obtained the results of a DNA test on one of the cigarette butts which showed it was a game for Fullham, according to the affidavit. A subsequent motor vehicle records check also listed Fullman as the owner of a car resembling the one seen on store surveillance video leaving Wawa.
Later in August, investigators learned that Fullman had worked at an auto body shop near where the Little Egg Harbor fires took place. Investigators also checked his Facebook and Instagram pages, finding photos that showed he appeared to be the man leaving the convenience store on the day the Little Egg Harbor fires broke out. In one of the social media photos, he was wearing the same t-shirt and hat as the day he stopped at the Wawa in Tuckerton, the charging document says.
Authorities could not find Fullman at his home in Manchester or at his grandmother’s house in Red Bank. Fullham provided Red Bank’s address to authorities after he had already been placed on probation.
Fullman kept a low profile until December 1, when he started four fires on Airport Road in Lakewood and two more in Manchester minutes later, according to the affidavit.
Then, on December 8, 12 separate small fires were started in Little Egg Harbor. Fire investigators found 11 “recently discarded cigarette butts” near one of the fires the following day.
Meanwhile, a Manchester Police Office on patrol near the fires arrested Fullman after noticing he was parked on Volante Road, which is marked as private property. The cop noticed Marlboro cigarette filters “ripped out and strewn” on the passenger side of the car,” the affidavit states. not at the scene of the fire, officials said.
Fullman agreed to have his car searched, with investigators finding two lighters and a matchbook in the armrest along with a paper towel with motor vehicle oil on it, a whetstone and a small shovel elsewhere in the vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Two more fires were started in an almost identical location in Manchester – in the Brentwood Avenue area – on December 16. Surveillance video of a home on Wilbur Drive shows a vehicle matching one owned by Fullman driving in and out of the area.
By then, authorities had obtained a warrant to place a tracking device on one of Fullman’s vehicles. The device indicated that Fullman returned to the locations of some of the previously ignited shots. He also started three other small fires on Airpot Road in Lakewood on January 21.
Fullman was arrested and arrested on January 31 immediately after leaving his home, days after the prosecutor’s office approved the charges.
Fullman’s attorney, David. J. Foley, of Keansburg, could not be reached immediately Tuesday.
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Jeff Goldman can be reached at [email protected]