Homeless men, MBTA officer thwart Harwich arson plot

$1,100 offered to fire bomb West Harwich home for insurance money
The Riverside Drive home. Screen capture from David G. Curran video.

HARWICH - As we reported yesterday, Harwich Police are crediting a Boston MBTA police officer for listening to a homeless man's improbable tale and acting on it, a decision which saved this Harwich from flames.

As reported today in our Court Reports, Benjamin Parker, 26, 301 Marlborough St, Boston, was arraigned yesterday in Orleans District Court for attempted arson of a dwelling house; conspiracy; possession of explosives with intent to injure, September 22 in Harwich. Pretrial conference scheduled for November 1.

According to police reports, a Harwich police sergeant was contacted by a Massachusetts state trooper, regarding a report from Boston Transit police.

Two homeless men had been offered the job of burning down a house, by an individual who had "made donations" to them in the past near Kneeland Street in Boston.

The men agreed to complete the work (arson) for the agreed-upon price of $1,100. When one asked why the building had to be destroyed he was told, "for the insurance money," but they were to free a dog on the premises first.

Based on their report, the two were tailed by Boston and Transit police to West Harwich, where the Harwich sergeant had obtained a search warrant for 96 Riverside Drive.

When the man who'd contracted the fire brought the two there, he gained entry with a key, then displayed two five-gallon buckets of gasoline, two empty beer bottles and some rags.

He instructed them to pour gas throughout the building, then toss the bottles back inside once the house was engulfed.

Once he had left, the men contacted police. Parker was identified as the dog's owner, and the reporting party in a landlord-tenant dispute this past February.

(Video of the property by David G. Curran.)

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