California Environmental Extremist Arrested for 2006 Arson

By | October 5, 2009

Three years after the discovery of a failed incendiary device at a suburban Pasadena real estate construction site, FBI agents have used DNA analysis to arrest a man in Texas in a case they believe may involve environmental extremism.

Stephen James Murphy, 43, a former California resident, was arrested Wednesday at his residence in Arlington, Texas, with the help of University of Texas and city police, the FBI said.

Murphy appeared in federal court in Dallas on Thursday and is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the near future, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

A complaint filed last week charges him with the attempted arson of unfinished townhouses on Sept. 19, 2006.

Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said the location was near the historic Colorado Street Bridge over the Arroyo Seco.

Firefighters were called there after the discovery of crude incendiary device that had failed to ignite.

The next day arriving construction workers found they could not start a tractor on which someone had scrawled the phrase, “Another tractor decomissioned by the E.L.F.,” the complaint said.

The FBI said Pasadena detectives recognized the initials as referring to the Earth Liberation Front and determined that someone had tampered with the vehicle’s ignition system.

DNA extracted from cigarettes that were used in the incendiary device recently produced a match with Murphy’s DNA profile on record with the California Department of Justice, the FBI said.

A sample of Murphy’s DNA had been taken during an unrelated arrest in Southern California, Eimiller said.

Murphy was unemployed and living “somewhat transiently” near the University of Texas at Arlington but had apparently worked as an accountant at some point, she said.

Derderian said Murphy lived in Pasadena before relocating but she had no other information about him.

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