The Daviess County Sheriff's Department charged a 14-year-old boy Thursday with first-degree arson in connection with a string of fires that occurred within four days of each other in the area of Kentucky 764 and with an incident where a fire was set Thursday at Daviess County High School.
Sheriff's department reports say at 3:25 p.m. Thursday, the juvenile told Deputy Paul Mattingly, school resource officer at DCHS, of a fire in a men's restroom. Reports say the juvenile led Mattingly to the fire, which had been started on a toilet paper roll. The fire burned the wall but caused no other damage, reports say.
When questioned, the juvenile told Mattingly he started the fire and claimed he'd found a book of matches on the restroom floor, reports say.
Maj. Bill Thompson, head of investigations for the sheriff's department, said the juvenile was brought to the department while Mattingly handled the paperwork on an arson charge.
"We realized he lived in the general area where the other arsons occurred," Thompson said Friday. "During the course (of the investigation) it was determined we had enough information to charge him with the other three" arsons. The juvenile was charged with four counts of first-degree arson, which is a class A felony.
The three arsons or which the juvenile was charged all occurred in occupied homes in the 3900 block of Kentucky 764 between Aug. 14 and Aug. 18. In two of those incidents, vinyl siding was set on fire, while the other incident, the occupants found a back window had been broken and a blanket inside the home was on fire.
The sheriff's department also investigated a house fire in the 10000 block of U.S. 231, which is near Kentucky 764. The occupants weren't home at the time of the fire, and the cause was undetermined. Investigators determined the juvenile wasn't involved in that incident, Thompson said.
The three homes over which the juvenile was charged "were within 100 yards of each other," Thompson said. While it was fortunate the occupants discovered the fires so they could be extinguished quickly, "if they hadn't caught (the fires), it would have been catastrophic," he said.
The other three involved fires set at three homes in the 3900 block of Kentucky 764 on Aug. 14, Aug. 17 and Aug. 18, the sheriff's department said.
The boy was released to his parents until his appearance in Daviess County Juvenile Court, the news release said.
On Friday, Damon Fleming, the director of student services at Daviess County Public Schools, said in a statement: "On Thursday, September 19, 2019, there was a piece of burnt paper found in a boys' restroom at Daviess County High School. The students, staff, and the schools were never in danger. There were no injuries to anyone nor any property damage to Daviess County High School as a result of the burnt piece of paper."
Later in the statement, Fleming said, "The investigation by school administrators and the Daviess County Sheriff's Office is another example of our partnership and shared commitment to the safety and security of our students and our community."
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse