Teens arrested in theft, arson

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Levy County mud boggers may have been upstaged July 19 by a couple of out-of-town teenagers with a unique flare for the sport, according to Chiefland police.

On July 20, Andrew Hooks Murray, 18, of Saint Petersburg, and a 16-year-old juvenile were arrested by CPD officers when the teens, reported by locals as acting suspicious, were found in possession of stolen items.

Murray had given police a fake name, but his identity was discovered when authorities found his driver's license on him.

Both were taken to police headquarters for questioning, and that's when the story began to unravel.

According to a report, "... Murray seemed nervous, turning red, and attempting to redirect the line of questioning."

He was asked about the stolen bicycle the teens had in their possession, and then he was asked if he had anything to do with a vehicle that was set ablaze the night before near Big Chief Mini Storage.

Murray said the bike wasn't his and denied any involvement with the burned vehicle, but his 16-year-old companion had a different version of events.

The younger teen didn't have much to say at first, according to the report, but then he "changed his mind," explaining that the "stolen black SUV, we went mudding and drifting. Then it got stuck, and we blew it up."

The vehicle, a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder, was stolen from Saint Petersburg.

The flames were put out by Chiefland Fire Rescue before police arrived Saturday. The vehicle, as well as any evidence within, was a complete loss, according to CPD.

The younger teen told police he didn't know the vehicle was stolen, and, he said, it was not his idea to stick a rag in the gas tank and light the Pathfinder on fire.

According to the report, the juvenile admitted that the stolen bike was taken by the two when it was unattended at Murphy's Express gas station.

Both teens were taken to the Levy County Jail.

Murray, the older of the two, was charged with loitering or prowling, providing a false name, grand theft auto and 1st degree arson. His bond was set at $200,000.