BANGOR, Maine — A Bangor-area transient who was linked to two burglaries by DNA left at the scene entered no-contest pleas on Tuesday to those crimes and to setting a Broadway apartment building on fire in December. He will serve eight years in prison for the offenses.
Matthew Fernald, 34, entered the pleas for the Dec. 6 arson and two unrelated burglaries and thefts before Justice William Anderson at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
“One burglary occurred last fall and the second burglary occurred about four years ago in Bangor,” Deputy District Attorney Mike Roberts said. In both break-ins “the burglar cut himself” and Bangor police took DNA samples as evidence, he added.
After Fernald was arrested for the arson, he was asked to provide a DNA sample, and “Bangor police got a match to both burglaries,” Roberts said.
Fernald was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the arson with all but eight years suspended and three years of probation after he is released from prison. Anderson also sentenced Fernald to six years in prison for both of the burglaries and four years for each of the thefts with all running concurrent with the arson sentence.
Fernald was connected to the Broadway fire after he had purchased a gas can, gas, matches and cigarettes on Dec. 3 from the nearby Big Apple store.
A store clerk called Bangor Police Department that day to report Fernald’s strange behavior and his purchases, Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a press release at the time.
About an hour later, police and fire crews responded to a building fire at 143 Broadway that required people to evacuate. The fire was under control in about 15 minutes, and no injuries were reported, Edwards said.
Police linked the clerk’s call to the fire and within two hours had arrested Fernald. He has been in Penobscot County Jail since his arrest and remained there Tuesday night, a jail official said.