Arson Suspect Arrested, Police Ask Residents to Stay Alert

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Police and fire officials say they're confident they have arrested the man responsible for starting at least five of the 19 suspicious fires they've been investigating since January.

Officers arrested 49-year-old Phillip James Marshall Sunday on four counts of first degree arson and one count of second degree arson. They say they believe Marshall set five fires at 1229 Grand Avenue since January 8, but at this point those are the only attacks they can link him to.

"It's certainly nothing that one would expect is going to happen in your life," said Ellen Reimer, who lives at 1229 Grand.

Reimer says the past six months have been especially trying for her and her family. Once in January, once in February, and three times in March someone tried to burn down her home.

"It was numbing really," said Reimer. "Of course there was a lot of anxiety."

Anxiety that provided the police department's biggest lead. Reimer and her family set up a surveillance camera outside their home that took video of a man setting their garage on fire. Months later, she now gets to watch video of who police say is that same man, Phillip Marshall, being taken away in handcuffs.

"That feels great," said Reimer. "That makes it feel worth the problems that we had if it can solve problems for more than just ourselves."

Authorities say even though Marshall has been arrested, they're still left trying to figure out who started 14 other fires in the downtown area.

"Let's hope that this was the big break and this is the one arsonist in our valley," said Grand Junction Police Chief Bill Gardner. "We cannot come to that conclusion yet."

Officials say the investigations into all the fires will continue.

"We do not consider these series of arsons a closed case," said Chief Gardner.

Police are asking downtown residents to stay alert and report any kind of suspicious behavior. It's a request Reimer says she and her neighbors have no problem doing.

"I'm sure everyone is aware of the security risks at this point," said Reimer. "I'm sure everyone will still be on guard for awhile."

While the search for the serial arsonist may not be over, Reimer says she can't help but let out a sigh of relief that Marshall is behind bars.

"I'm sure that we'll sleep better at night and we feel much better about our children being safer."

Marshall is currently in the Mesa County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

Police say as the investigation moves forward, they will continue to look for connections between the fires they believe Marshall started and the others.

They're asking anyone with information about the fires or anyone who has more information on Marshall to call the arson tip line at (970) 244-3777.

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