A Ripley woman and her son have been charged with burning a truck to get the insurance money.
Elizabeth Kay Harrison, 59, of 9742 Charleston Road, Ripley, was charged with insurance fraud, arson to insured property, and conspiracy to commit a felony. Bradley Syner, 33, also of 9742 Charleston Road, Ripley, was charged with third-degree arson, arson to insured property, and conspiracy to commit a felony.
On July 15, Harrison told Deputy B.L. Varney that, sometime between 2:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. that day, someone stole her 2008 Ford F-150 out of her driveway, according to a criminal complaint filed in Jackson County Magistrate Court. Harrison stated she had the keys to the truck in her purse in her home. She gave Varney a description of the vehicle, including the registration number, and told him the truck was valued at $8,000.
Around 12:20 p.m. on July 19, a witness told Varney that Syner had burned the truck on Centerview Road. Varney located the truck about 1.5 miles out Centerview Road around 2:30 p.m. that day.
Part of the registration number was still visible on the license plate, and the characters visible were consistent with the registration number Harrison had provided, according to the complaint. Varney also could read most of the vehicle identification number, which also matched the truck Harrison reported stolen. Varney had the truck towed and contacted the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office to request an investigation to attempt to determine the cause of the fire.
Around 8 p.m. on July 19, Varney spoke to the witness who initially reported that Syner had burned the truck. The witness stated Syner had told him he planned to burn the truck and asked to borrow a lighter. Syner told the witness that Harrison had instructed him to get rid of the truck, according to the complaint. The witness stated he spoke with Syner the day after the arson, and Syner allegedly said he lit the seat on fire and the truck was smoking when he left, the complaint states.
Varney had the witness call Syner,
but Syner would not admit to setting fire to the vehicle. The witness told Varney he was nervous, which probably spooked Syner, according to the complaint. Varney looked at the call log on the witness’ phone, which showed three calls early on the morning of July 15, the complaint alleges.
Around 12:49 p.m. on July 20, the Fire Marshal’s Office contacted Varney and reported the cause of the fire could not be determined. The Fire Marshal’s office had checked, but Harrison had not filed a claim with her insurance company at that time.
On July 23, the witness contacted Varney and reported Syner came to his house the previous night and told him the police were onto him. Syner told the witness “if he was going down (the witness) was going down, too.” Syner also told the witness he was not going back to prison, and made a threat to the witness because he had talked to the police, according to the complaint.
Around 6:40 a.m. on July 28, Varney and Deputy Brandon Williams executed a search warrant at the residence of Harrison and Syner. Varney seized all cellular phones found in the home, as well as two laptop computers, one desktop computer tower, and one SIM card.
On Aug. 7, Varney was contacted by Safeco Insurance and advised that Harrison had filed a claim on the theft and arson of the truck.
On Nov. 15, based on two warrants issued for Syner’s cellular phone information, including GPS locations, Deputy Gary Baldwin provided Varney with maps showing that Syner’s phone was in the area where the truck was burned at the time of the arson, the complaint alleges.
On Nov. 18, Varney interviewed Harrison, who denied any involvement in the arson. Varney asked Harrison if she would agree to take a polygraph test and Harrison said she would. Harrison came to the sheriff’s department on Jan. 14 for the polygraph. Before the exam, she stated she did not need to take the test and wanted to admit to the crime.
Harrison allegedly told Varney she was looking for a way to pay of credit card debt, and Syner suggested the insurance on her truck as a way to pay the debt. Harrison then asked Syner to get rid of the truck. She said he allegedly took the truck late at night and returned around daybreak, stating that he had burned it. She said Syner used the key to start and drive the truck and then brought the key back, according to the complaint.