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Couch fires that damage hosue lead to arson investigation involving boy, 10

Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 12:17 p.m. CDT

DECATUR (MCT) — A 10-year-old Decatur boy is being investigated by police for arson after he allegedly set two couches on fire Tuesday and caused $5,000 in damage to a residence in the 1300 block of East Condit Street.

A juvenile appointment was scheduled Thursday night to interview the juvenile and establish probable cause, said Sgt. Jason Walker, head of the Decatur Police Department’s juvenile investigations unit. He noted that if probable cause for arson is found, the case will likely be petitioned to the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office and recommended for charges.

Detective Sgt. Shane Brandel said officers were sent to the residence at 4:19 p.m. Tuesday, where it appeared fire had been set to two couches that were behind the residence.

“The couches then caused the residence to catch fire,” he said.

Decatur Fire Inspector Larry Ball, who responded to the fire at 4:38 p.m. with Decatur firefighters, said the fire resulted in exterior burn marks and charring from the ground to the ceiling beams on the home’s rear wall.

“We estimate the damage to the home at $5,000,” he said, noting that the homeowner was not present at the time of the fire and no injuries or interior damage were reported.

Brandel said the suspect’s mother told police she was home doing laundry when she received a phone call from a friend stating that her 10-year-old son had set a house on fire, according to a police report.

“The mother and neighbors said the suspect has a history of setting things on fire,” Brandel said, adding that a witness who lives nearby told police she observed the suspect at the front of her residence shortly before the fire began.

“She said she ran him off her property because she had previously observed him lighting towels on fire,” Brandel said. “She then went inside and said she heard some popping noises, and when she came back outside, she said she observed the two couches burning.”

Police and firefighters did not see the suspect at the scene when they responded to the fire, but according to the police report, he returned home later that day and indicated that he’d been involved in setting the couches on fire but didn’t know who set the house on fire.

“What he didn’t realize is that it was the burning couches that caught the house on fire,” Brandel said.

If charges are filed by the state’s attorney’s office, a juvenile hearing will be scheduled.

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