Joseph Smith booking photo and some of his handiwork – the remains of a burned-out car
Suspect Enlisted In Navy And Left The Area
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY – The Aptos Police Department has made their final arrest in an investigation that began in November of last year. This case of vandalism ended with the arrest of 18-year-old Joseph Smith, who had enlisted in the Navy and left the area. He pleaded not guilty in his preliminary hearing on Wednesday, October 21, and is expected to appear in court again on October 28th.
The case began on Saturday, November 22, 2014, when deputies were called to Townsend Drive in Aptos and discovered that three cars had been intentionally set ablaze, and 16 others had their windows smashed while parked in the areas of both Rio Del Mar Boulevard and Seacliff Drive. All were believed to be connected to the same crime spree. The total estimated damage was in excess of $100,000.00.
Aptos Police’s Crime Scene Investigators processed the scene looking for any kind of evidence. Upon initial investigation deputies were able to find a gas can that was used to set the fires, and a broken baseball bat that they believed was used to break the windows of the vehicles.
As investigators continued to work this case, interviewing neighborhood residents, and even using the School Resource Officer to speak with teens to come up with potential leads. Eventually a concerned citizen who had pertinent information as to who set the fires came forward. The person was able to identify two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old as the individuals responsible for the damage.
The two 17-year-olds were contacted and confessed to their participation in the case. After being interviewed, the 18-year-old, identified as Joseph Smith, joined the United States Navy and left the area. Continuing their investigation, detectives worked with the District Attorney’s Office to get an arrest warrant for Smith.
On October 6, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Detectives traveled to Pensacola Florida where they arrested Smith. He has since been extradited back to Santa Cruz County and has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges of vandalism and arson.