Who’s Setting Car Fires in Norfolk’s Ghent Neighborhood?

by Kerry Dougherty

Who’s setting those car fires in Ghent?

Oh, you haven’t heard about the arsons? Buckle up.

Last Friday night, as rain drenched Norfolk, Patrick and Tiffany McGee and their two young sons were watching TV in their picturesque Cape Cod with a picket fence on the corner of Redgate and Claremont Avenues in West Ghent.

According to a witness report filed by Patrick McGee, Tiffany saw a figure outside of their home and by the time her husband — a former Navy SEAL — opened the door and sprinted outside he found their two cars engulfed in flames. Patrick got his family out of the back of the house and to safety while neighbors who’d gathered near the inferno called for help.

The fire trucks arrived, one after another, and finally put out the conflagration which had spread to the attached garage and nearby trees.

When it was over, the McGees’ Mini Cooper had been incinerated, their Jeep Grand Cherokee was just a shell, their garage was charred and their house was uninhabitable due to the gas and electricity being cut.

Looks like the Ghent arsonist struck again.

No, the fire marshal isn’t ready to say this leafy neighborhood has a serial arsonist at work, but four car fires in the past year?

Two separate car fires in the past two weeks? On the same block?

Something’s going on.

If you read the Next Door App for Ghent you know that people are frightened. They’re sharing information about suspicious characters in the neighborhood and sending good wishes to the McGee family.

Yet the City of Norfolk has yet to post an urgent bulletin asking for help in solving the crimes.


When I talked to him yesterday, Fire Marshal Nicholas Nelson said he’d been working on almost nothing but these “suspicious fires” for the past two weeks and that multiple agencies were involved in the investigation. Evidence has been sent to the state labs and investigators in Norfolk are poring over footage from nearby surveillance cameras and home security systems.

“This is a top priority,” Nelson told me.

Could this be an individual seeking revenge on specific homes in the neighborhood? I asked. Nelson said he wasn’t ruling out anything.

Those of us who covered the two Eastern Shore arsonists in 2012 and 2013 who evaded detection for five months while they set more than 70 fires in Accomack County know how hard it is to solve this sort of crime and just how terrifying it is to those who live in the vicinity of the blazes

Anyone who was near Claremont and Redgate Avenues last Friday night around 9 p.m. and saw anything suspicious should call the Fire Marshal at 757-664-6604.

Look, someone is setting cars on fire, dangerously close to homes. Last weekend, one of these fires leapt to a house with a family with small children inside. This could have turned tragic in a hurry.

When I talked to Tiffany McGee on Wednesday she said she and her husband “know it’s arson” and that they’re staying in Virginia Beach for the time being, “where we feel safe.”

Someone knows something. Tell the authorities. Solve the mystery.

Send this sick person to prison.

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


23 responses to “Who’s Setting Car Fires in Norfolk’s Ghent Neighborhood?”

  1. Wooooooo…”Send this sick person to prison.”
    What a white supremacist Anglo-Saxon Euro-centric knee jerk reaction to a person merely attempting to express themselves since they did not learn proper grammar in the failed public school system.

    1. John Harvie Avatar
      John Harvie

      An utter Bull Shit comment on a serious crime incident.

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Yeah. Like making fires possessive.

      “Findings revealed that most serial arsonists were young white males; 58.7 percent of fires were set by offenders before 18 years of age, and 79.7 percent were set before 29 years of age.”

      “The most common motive for setting fires was revenge, followed by excitement, vandalism, profit, and other crime concealment.”


      1. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
        Baconator with extra cheese

        Sweet. So let’s start using urban shooting data to profile as well!

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Like mass shootings? They know those profiles, but the GOP didn’t like it.

          1. especially the three mass shootings in Chicago over the past days

          2. DJRippert Avatar

            I always wonder when liberals try to make that point. Here are the actual statistics:


            The big challenge in this analysis is that Latino isn’t a race, it’s an ethnicity. So, how to divide the 10% Latino between White and Black is a legitimate question.

            Regardless, the perception that mass shooters are disproportionately White is not supported by the facts.

          3. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Show me a dot-gov.

          4. WayneS Avatar

            It’s not a .gov, but it’s certainly not right-wing.


            The racial demographic of mass shooters lines up pretty well with the racial make-up of the general population.

          5. yeah – cause the FBI can be trusted — Atlanta Pipe Bomber, Ruby Ridge, Anthrax, Quantico Lab, Steele Dossier, FISA Court, Jan 6 unnamed co-conspirators…..J E Hoover, and on and on and on….

          6. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Can you spell “Q”?

      2. Brian Leeper Avatar
        Brian Leeper

        The most common profession for an arsonist….firefighter.

      3. Publius Avatar

        Nancy for the deception! A 1994 story with a sample size of…83!
        And that showed 82% white and 10% black. Sort of in line with the population percentages…
        I wonder if a more modern study would show a disproportionate increase in black arson?
        Or maybe it is all the tattooed white wokesters?
        Or maybe after a summer of burning everything with no consequences, maybe we don’t know.
        What we do know is crimes have been committed. Black, white, red, purple, yellow – the perp should be punished.
        If the perp is “marginalized” (a POC or LGBTQ or some claimed victim group), will that be a mitigating circumstance for you NN?

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          83 cooperative. 1000s of files.

          1. Publius Avatar

            N = 83 for the racial composition table

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            83 is a big number. Are you implying it’s not a representative sample? 36 institions housing 1000 arsonists. 83 is nearly 1 out of every 11.

          3. Publius Avatar

            I’m not implying anything. I’m saying 83 is not a statistically significant number. Also likely selection bias in the 83. Did more whites proportionately respond than blacks because of distrust of the police?
            Let’s just find the perp and prosecute. There could be a racial angle or a crazy angle or a revenge angle. Who knows?

          4. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Who knows? You’re right. Maybe black arsonists are clever enough not to get caught.

          5. Publius Avatar

            You are blind. I haven’t said anything one way or the other. You are the racist because you see everything in terms of color of skin. Per se racism. Purely as a function of math, all other things being equal, there should be more white arsonists because there are more white people. A sample size of 83 is statistically insignificant and likely had selection bias. Let’s find the perp and apply the law equally no matter the perp’s color of skin. Your initial point and citing of the report was your white guilt racist diversion ploy. I was just pointing out how stupid it was as “proof.” Maybe it’s a white guy. A black girl. A trans Latinx. A confused child of an interracial black and white couple, conflicted over whether he should bear white guilt or claim full victim, oppressed status, and has gender dysphoria. There are so many possibilities!

          6. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Yes, more white people… but it’s disproportionately so. Of course, that report was an effort to develop a working profile for serial arsonists, like the serial killer profile, is a tool not necessarily a gold standard.

            Even the authors indicate that at the time of the study, the subject pool was biased if for no other reason than the attacks on black churches, for one.

            Nevertheless, probability is that the Ghent subject will be white, under 30, and in some way, revenge motivated. Or, as inicated by someone in this thread, a firefighter. Oh, look at that. It’s just below this.

  2. Publius Avatar

    Maybe an idea is setting the fires…

    1. more like a myth, a theory, a philosophy according to Rep Nadler.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Too bad. Ghent has always been Norfolk’s jewel. It’s more than likely one of the neighbors.

Leave a Reply