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2 Suspects In Deltona Arson Case In Custody

Date Added: August 02, 2023 3:42 pm

Andrew Gant
Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations


Two suspects in an explosion at a Deltona home earlier this summer are now both in custody on charges of arson and possession of a fire bomb after a thorough investigation by Volusia sheriff’s detectives.

Deputies, detectives, bomb technicians, Deltona firefighters and the state fire marshal all responded to the June 24 explosion on Covington Drive in Deltona. It was determined unknown suspects threw an explosive device through a front bedroom window.

No injuries were reported in the fire. Broken pieces of a Don Julio Reposado Tequila bottle were found in the bedroom, along with cardboard from a mortar-style firework and copper foil.

The investigation led detectives to identify the fire victim’s son, Christopher Cruz Ayala, as a suspect. Detectives also identified a friend of Ayala’s, Jason Smith, whose car was captured by a License Plate Reader camera as it entered Deltona a few minutes before the explosion.

The motive for the arson was determined to be a family dispute over a relationship Ayala was having with his brother’s girlfriend during his brother’s incarceration in Seminole County.

When detectives located and interviewed Smith, he denied involvement. However, during a search of his car, they found a Don Julio tequila cork in the trunk and a lighter in the back seat.

Cell phone data later showed Smith’s phone was in the area of the explosion when it occurred. Prior to that, the data showed he was at Ayala’s apartment in Winter Park.

Smith was arrested July 11 and remains at the Volusia County Branch Jail with a bond of $200,000.

The investigation continued following his arrest. Using cell phone data, video surveillance footage and other information collected from interviews, detectives obtained a warrant this week for Ayala’s arrest on the same charges as Smith.  

Ayala, who was recently arrested in Orange County on unrelated charges including trafficking in fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines, remains in custody in the Orange County Jail with a $1.2 million bond. He will be served with his VSO warrant there.

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