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Son of Fire Killer Charged With Carrying Firebomb

February 5, 1991 GMT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ The teen-age son of a man who burned five people to death in a grocery store has been charged with carrying a homemade firebomb, authorities said.

John William Ferry III, 14, was arrested Saturday after deputies spotted him walking along a road trying to hide something inside a newspaper. They found a small plastic bottle with gasoline and a string fuse.

The arrest was in the same Clair-Mel City neighborhood southeast of Tampa where, in July 1983, John William Ferry Jr. splashed gasoline through a Winn- Dixie store and lit it, killing five people and injuring 16.

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Ferry, 38, is serving a mandatory 125-year sentence.

The younger Ferry is charged as a juvenile, facing felony counts of possession of a firebomb and possession of a destructive device, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department said.

Deputies would not say if Ferry told them why he was carrying the firebomb. He did not resist arrest.

It was not the boy’s first run-in with the law.

In March 1990, he was arrested in connection with a burglary at a Catholic church. He was booked on a related charge of attempted arson for allegedly setting fire to a trash can, but it was dismissed because there was no damage to the church, records showed.

The elder Ferry was convicted in 1985 after jurors rejected an insanity defense. Public defenders had tried to portray him as a paranoid schizophrenic who believed in a Soviet conspiracy to overthrow the United States.

Ferry saw the Winn-Dixie signs - which he described as ″Russian Red″ and white - as evidence the chain was part of a communist takeover, relatives testified.

The same jury recommended life in prison, but Circuit Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. ignored its recommendation and instead sentenced Ferry to die in the state’s electric chair.

In April 1987, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the death sentences, ruling that Menendez should have followed the jury’s wishes. Ferry then was given five life sentences, to be followed by a 30-year sentence for his arson conviction.