The NYPD is still searching for a suspected serial arsonist in Forest Hills who they believe has now caused at least six fires in the past six weeks. After the most recent fire on November 25th, the NYPD recovered a note from the scene which they believed to have been left by the arsonist himself.
The note contained an encrypted code, from which both the NYPD and FBI were able to decipher an individual's name. However, police now believe that individual was not involved, and was framed by the arsonist.
"That lead has now turned into a mislead," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce at a press conference Wednesday. "We believe it was deceptive by the perpetrator. The individual identified in that cryptic code is not him. We sat down and talked to this person at great length; he doesn't appear to have anything to do with it and he can account for his time."
Boyce did not elaborate any further on the note itself.
The fires have mostly occurred at unoccupied homes under construction, as well an empty building and a storage facility. The cases are unusual in that the suspect does not use an accelerant, but rather sets fire to combustible materials already on site.
Police have now increased the reward to $12,500 for anyone who can provide identifying information about this arsonist. You can see a surveillance video of the suspect at the November 25th scene here:
Forest Hills Arson Suspectby Gothamist
Anyone with information on the fires is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). Or you can submit a tip to Crime Stoppers' website, or text a tip to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.