Arson charge dismissed against Virginia man who terrorized Black family

A judge tossed an arson charge against Virginia man who had terrorized a Black family for months.

Theodore Olsen was convicted on two counts of destruction of property and sentenced in April to 730 days in jail, with 470 days suspended, but a judge dismissed an arson charge Monday after finding that prosecutors had mishandled the case, reported WAVY-TV.

Mendy Hanner and her family reported rocks thrown through their windows, nails placed in their driveway and graffiti on their garage, and then their car was set on fire in August 2020.

Hanner, whose husband serves in the U.S. Navy, said she had taken to sitting in the car overnight to thwart the attacks, which tended to come between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., but the vehicle was set on fire on the only night she stayed inside the house.

"It was the first night we let our guard down," she told The Virginian-Pilot.

Hanner was disappointed that police did little to prevent the attacks before Olsen's arrest, and now the arson charge related to the burned car was set aside due to a miscommunication between the defense and prosecution.

Prosecutors remain hopeful the judge may change his mind at another hearing scheduled for later this week.

Olsen, a Navy veteran, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in April 2013 in a similar case after he told a court he was suffering from a psychotic episode when he spray-painted several houses in his neighborhood and threw rocks through vehicle windows.