The search for whoever started the ten church fires in northwestern Alabama is entering its 12th day.
Investigators say they're tracking down hundreds of leads from the public. But they're also trying to locate the arsonists without using an eyewitness.
They're relying instead on history and geography, and both are showing some promise.
It's a coincidence even the most amateur of detectives would spot: the fact that the suspects have returned to roughly the same place as the last rash of arsons. It begs the question: are they the same person?
The ATF's Special Agent in Charge, Jim Cavanaugh, worked on the original arsons back in 1996, and he doesn't think so.
"I'd say it's unlikely it's the same offender. It's possible, of course," he said. "Because criminal behavior, to span ten years, it would be somewhat unusual I would say."
The timing is suspect too. Almost ten years have passed since 19 arsons blazed throughout west Alabama, most unsolved. So is there an anniversary involved?
"It's not necessarily that this offender is tied to any specific date," Cavanaugh said. "He may be angry with someone, he's frustrated or mad, he's been mistreated."
The strongest forensic evidence so far is the location of each arson. Investigators won't reveal exactly how they plot out a search area, but they confirm it's something like this: they draw a defined area around each fire and then try to map out how the suspects traveled from fire to fire. And, with at least nine examples, they have a lot to work with.
"We look at his past criminal behavior. Where do firesetters start setting fires. Where do they then set new fires, as opposed to where they live. So they're doing all those things," said Cavanaugh.
Investigators are also convinced the suspects are trying to send a specific message. They believe the fires are about something personal, and what they mean by that is someone in power treated the suspects badly and now they're reacting.
They are also convinced this is the work of two men who are always seen together no matter where they go.
We have another ATF request tonight; again, they are directly appealing to the arsonists to call or email them if for no other reason but to say why they are burning the churches.
The phone number for the arsonists to call is 205-343-9531.
They can email the ATF at this email address: email@example.com