Suffolk, Va. – A decorated Army Reserve sergeant has been accused of setting a string of fires over the past four months in Suffolk. Timothy Updike, 27, is charged with three counts of arson and one count of threat to burn. All fires were within walking distance of Updike’s home.
According to a U.S. Army spokesman, Updike is a cargo specialist at Fort Story and has been in the reserve since 2005. He deployed to Iraq from March 2008 to January 2009. He has won several awards, including an Army Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, and an Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
Neighbors say he lived in Chuckatuck with his fiancée and seemed like a normal guy.
“He was a nice guy, polite,” says Kevin Dion, who lives next door to Updike. “We talked on several occasions.”
A fourth fire, which is still under investigation, was at a shed behind Updike’s home, just feet from where Dion and his mother, Sandy live. Sandy says the fires had the small community on edge.
“I don’t sleep at night,” she says. “I sit up all night just listening to see if I can hear fire trucks because you can hear their rumbling.”
Two of the arsons were in January and the third happened earlier this month. All were at unoccupied garages or sheds, but neighbors say the fires could have easily destroyed the nearby homes.