Person of interest in Palm Bay car lot arson arrested

Police: Burglar stole vehicle from business before setting it on fire

By Brianna Volz - Web producer
Photo courtesy of BCSO

PALM BAY, Fla. - The man police were calling a person of interest in a Palm Bay arson case was arrested Sunday morning, according to jail records.

Police said Wednesday that John Tapley Jr., 36, was wanted for questioning by both Palm Bay police and the State Fire Marshal's Office in connection with a fire that was set at a used car lot after someone stole a vehicle from the family business.

Tapley was arrested Sunday and booked into the Brevard County Jail on one count of grand theft of a motor vehicle, as well as two other charges, jail records show. It was not immediately clear if the charges were related to the arson.

Palm Bay Police Lt. Mike Bandish said Monday that Tapley has also been charged with burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and the State Fire Marshal's Office is charging him with arson. 

Anaeva "Hannah" Vazquez told News 6 that the alarm went off at Magical Hands Auto on Canova Street around 2 a.m. July 3, but her family mistakenly thought it must have been nothing. 

Investigators said that almost four hours later, a burglar set the building on fire before leaving.

"And as soon as he leaves and gets in the car, you see the flames start," Vazquez said, describing what she said was the burglar caught on the store's surveillance cameras.

Vazquez said the burglar broke into a couple of cars and left with a 2005 Ford Ranger pickup truck. The burglar also got away with an urn that held the ashes of a loved one, which the family kept in the building, Vazquez said.

She said her family was sad to lose the business her parents worked so hard to build, but said they found comfort in knowing that no one was hurt and the building was insured.

Copyright 2017 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.