A 27-year-old homeless man has been charged with setting four Hyannis houses ablaze on the evening of April 20. Police said a fingerprint found at one of the scenes provided a break in the case.
Mathew Pungitore was arraigned Monday in Barnstable District Court on four counts of arson, said First Assistant District Attorney Michael Trudeau of the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office. Pungitore pleaded not guilty and was held on $50,000 cash bail.
At about 4 a.m. on April 20, three vacant seasonal homes on Pilgrim Lane in Hyannis and one on neighboring Baxter Road caught fire. One building was a total loss; the three others were damaged but salvageable, fire officials said at the time.
Police later discovered there were signs of forced entry at each residence.
Deputy Sean Percy of the Barnstable County sheriff’s office lifted a fingerprint from the point of entry in one of the houses, which was later matched with Pungitore. A police bulletin was sent out on Pungitore, who was arrested Sunday, Barnstable police said in a statement.
Pungitore told police he had broken into a home on Pilgrim Lane and turned on a stove to stay warm the night the houses burned. He said that some towels caught fire in the house, and he left the home without notifying anyone, the statement said.
He also said he entered a second home on Pilgrim Lane that night and turned on another stove.
In addition to the four cases of arson on April 20, there have been three other house fires deemed suspicious in recent months in the Cape Cod town, two at 50 Fresh Holes Road and one at 11 Hiramar Road, fire officials said.
Pungitore is to return to court Dec. 9 for a probable cause hearing, Trudeau said.Jasper Craven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jasper_Craven