The suspect, 17-year-old Tristan Zammit, apparently left behind several clues. Zammit was charged last week with setting the fire that caused the road to collapse.
The search warrant shows what police believe he was actually up to. It says a coating used to shield the pipe against erosion had been melted then that melted part was used to spell out "Tristan." It goes on to say that the sustained heat source used to melt the coating could have caused the fire.
The warrant also said Zammit sent a text message to someone showing them what he had done.
"Unfortunately, the incident has really been an inconvenience," said Cary resident Nicole Gatchalian. "The traffic has really picked up in the residential neighborhoods because of it."
"They were doing a prank and they didn't really think about the repercussions of it, which were huge," said Cary resident Don Brown.
Huge may be an understatement. The price tag for repairs to the culvert and the roadway is now at least $480,000.
"If someone doesn't learn responsibility when they're young, they're just going to keep doing this," said Cary resident Sarah Long.
Responsibility may be more than one lesson learned for Zammit, who is a Cary High School student. He now faces 60 days in jail, and a hefty fine.
Police said Zammit, who confessed and has been very apologetic, will have to also pay for some of the reconstruction.
In the search warrant, police said they seized the clothes that Zammit had been wearing the night of the fire and electronic devices, including the phone he may have sent that text from.
Zammit will find out his fate in court in about three weeks.
Police said a Crimestoppers tip led police to Zammit.