Man arrested in Texas after woman injured in Riverdale home firebombing

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

A man was arrested Thursday in Texas and charged with firebombing a woman’s Clayton County home last month, officials said.

Theriton Wells was taken into custody while at his job at a paint shop in Humble, about 30 minutes outside of Houston, U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Frank Lempka said. The 32-year-old is charged with arson, aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault. He remains in Texas and will be extradited to Georgia.

On Aug. 20, a home along Derby Drive in Riverdale went up in flames about 2:40 a.m. When officers arrived on the scene, it was engulfed and had smoke coming out of the windows, an incident report previously obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated.

“We were able to determine that that fire was ignited by what is commonly referred to as molotov cocktails that were thrown through the windows,” Clayton fire interim chief of staff Landry Merkison said during a Monday news conference.

Officers were able to find the two residents, one of whom had several injuries to her face, neck and arms, according to the report. That victim, 22-year-old Adreana Swanson, was identified by Channel 2 Action News as a Clayton County teacher.

As of Monday afternoon, Riverdale police Detective Kamie McKay said Swanson was in “better spirits,” but remained at Grady Memorial Hospital.

According to Clayton fire Capt. Chris Cameron, the victim’s older brother and Wells at some point had a relationship and went to school together as children. The motive behind the arson was not released, but officials said they suspect a problem between the brother and Wells led him to retaliate.

“As they grew older, they were running in the same circles,” Cameron said. “The vengeful nature between one or the other, as of right now, we cannot disclose.”

Surveillance footage of the incident reveals bright sparks of light and a person running through the middle of the street near the home.

A neighbor told officers he was sitting inside his garage when he noticed a man wearing a black T-shirt, white shorts and a mask carrying a grocery bag. He later saw the man running behind his neighbor’s home and walking when he got in front of his residence, the incident report states. The man eventually ran out of the neighborhood.

Lempka said he wasn’t sure why Wells moved to Texas after the firebombing in which he’s charged, but added that Wells had lived in several states despite being in south Atlanta for several years.

Authorities told Channel 2 a few days after the incident the suspect was intent on making sure no one survived.

“It seems to us it was a targeting situation where there was an accelerant that went through the top window and an accelerant that went through the bottom window,” McKay said soon after the fire.

The firebomb that hit the top of the house went into the victim’s bedroom, leaving massive damage, the news station reported. The second went in the front window, investigators told the news station.