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Attorney Charged with Arson & Attempted Arson in Law Firm Fires

Posted May 7, 2010 12:28 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A West Virginia attorney has been accused of setting fire in 2007 to the Martinsburg law firm at which she then worked and attempting to set another fire there in 2008.

Ashley Shreve, 28, was arrested Wednesday in Virginia and charged in warrants issued by a magistrate in Berkeley County, W.Va., with second-degree arson, attempted arson, and making terroristic threats, the Herald-Mail reports.

The 2007 fire in the offices of McNeer Highland McMunn & Varner was reported at 5:45 a.m. Sept. 20; Shreve and another employee were the last to leave the night before, the newspaper reports. A box of documents under a legal assistant's desk were determined to have been intentionally set afire, and there was also damage to documents in Shreve's office.

Bomb threat letters reportedly were received at the law firm in June 2007 and mailed to a nearby insurance agency in October 2007. Authorities matched a DNA sample from the insurance agency letter to Shreve after obtaining her DNA through a search warrant late last year, the newspaper reports.

On April 4, 2008, shortly after Shreve left a women's restroom at the firm, an employee said she smelled a burning odor and fire damage was discovered to a ceiling tile and an area under a sink, according to court records.

Shreve subsequently left the firm and moved to Virginia, where she has been working as a lawyer in Richmond, the Journal reports.

Shreve is a graduate of West Virginia University College of Law. She was admitted to the state bar in 2006 and is currently an active member.

The articles don't include any comment from Shreve—who is being held in Henrico County, Va., awaiting extradition—or her former law firm.

"We're glad that we could bring closure to the victims in this case, the victims being the lawyers and the clerks out at the law firm," Berkeley County Sheriff’s Lt. B.F. Hall tells the Journal. "They were basically terrorized for a year or more."

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