Mental exam ordered for arson defendant

Tanya Smoot

FRONT ROYAL – A woman facing four counts of arson will undergo a mental health evaluation to determine her sanity at the time of the alleged offenses and whether she is competent to stand trial.

Warren County General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff ordered the examination for Tanya Wyvonne Smoot at the request of her attorney at a hearing Wednesday.

Smoot, 45, of 341 Osage St., also received a mental health evaluation after her arrest at the scene of the last fire about a month ago.

Smoot is being held without bond in the Rappahannock-Warren-Shenandoah Regional Jail. She is accused of setting fire to her residence on April 10 and a neighboring residence at 339 Osage St. on Nov. 29, Jan. 25 and Jan. 27.

No one was injured in the fires, which firefighters quickly extinguished each time. The building at 339 Osage St. is used for storage and has been unoccupied since before the fires.

In a related matter, Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said the buildings damaged by the fires remain unusable with few signs they will be rebuilt soon.

Maiatico said neither Smoot nor the landlord, who owns both buildings, had any insurance to cover the cost of repairing the fire damage. Maiatico identified the landlord as Gregory Gochenour of Rileyville.

Maiatico said fire insurance is not legally required to own a building.

“All I know is that he met the requirement from the fire marshal’s office that the property be boarded up to prevent an entry,” Maiatico said of Gochenour.

“He stayed a part of the investigation and cooperated with the investigation throughout the course of these incidents,” Maiatico added.

Attempts to reach Gochenour by phone were unsuccessful.

Maiatico said the results of the investigation have been turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney office, but doubted anyone else will surface as a defendant in the case.

“We believe the suspect was a lone wolf in these incidents,” Maiatico said of Smoot.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or