Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sara Barnes arrested for burning down "The Senator", the oldest pond cypress tree in the world

A 26-year-old Seminole County woman was arrested Tuesday in the fire that destroyed the oldest pond cypress tree in the world -- The Senator -- at Big Tree Park in Longwood.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services arrested Sara Barnes on charges of intentional burning of land, a third-degree felony.

Barnes also faces drug charges from Seminole County Sheriff's Office based on what was found during a search of her home. She is being charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Senator, a historic, 3,500-year-old cypress tree, burned and collapsed in mid-January.

Two tips from Crimeline led the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to arrest Barnes, authorities said. Tipsters said Barnes had taken cellphone pictures of the fire in the progress and uploaded them to her laptop, officials said. more