Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Transient accused of setting fire to homeless camps

HUDSON — As their tents burned earlier this month, the homeless people of the woods stomped and fumed and screamed. They said Scrappy lit their homes on fire because a teenage girl refused to have sex with him. They said Scrappy — Elton Gaffney, a 38-year-old transient who has spent more than 10 years in prison — torments them and steals their money and belongings.

"We want him caught," said George Graeff, 57, a homeless man whose belongings burned, while he watched crews extinguish the fire Feb. 1.

Graeff got his wish.

Gaffney was charged Thursday with criminal mischief for allegedly igniting the fire, which burned two homeless camps in 3 acres of woods along the west side of U.S. 19 just south of Beacon Woods Drive. He's been in the Pasco jail since Feb. 10 on charges of robbery, petit theft and simple battery. Gaffney is accused of stealing a homeless man's Taser earlier that day in those same woods. When the victim refused to give Gaffney the electrical charger, Gaffney held the man upside down by his ankles, grabbed the charger out of the victim's pocket and then used the Taser on the victim's groin area, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states.

On the day of the fire, witnesses said they heard propane tanks explode and saw Gaffney running from the woods as the fire roared. Officials estimate about three dozen people escaped. No one was injured.

"We will get him," said Graeff, who hobbled to safety on his cane. A sheriff's report said Graeff is a victim of Gaffney's in an extortion case, but sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said the case is active and no information was available to be released.

Gaffney is being held at the Pasco jail in lieu of $31,150 bail.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6229.

Transient accused of setting fire to homeless camps 02/17/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 17, 2012 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.