Break in the Case: Fire Investigators Say They Are Close to Arson Arrest

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A break in a serial arson case--Grand Junction fire investigators say they have a suspect in more than a dozen suspicious fires downtown
but they're waiting on more evidence to make an arrest.

Meanwhile, new evidence points to a second suspect.

Until now investigators thought 19 suspicious fires downtown were linked. Now they say 14 fires downtown were set by one person
and five fires at 1229 Grand Avenue were most likely set by a second suspect.

Still, no one was behind bars Tuesday night even though investigators say it's only a matter of time.

Flames pour out from a garage in the middle of the night while
neighbors watch on the street in their pajamas.

Our cameras were there as it happened over and over, and over again. No explanation except these fires were no accident.

"We have someone dangerous out there," Police Chief Bill Gardener said in a press conference in May.

That's when police announced a joint task force with the fire department and went on the hunt for a serial arsonist after 19 fires in the downtown area.

People who live downtown on edge, as fire investigators started taking tips and combing through evidence.

Then police released surveillance video of someone setting a garage on fire, and a short time later, they made an arrest.

Days later, an air tight alibi got Phillip James Marshall off the hook and the District Attorney's Office dropped the charges.

Now the roller coaster investigation has taken a new turn.

"Detectives are putting the pieces of the puzzle together," Grand Junction Fire Public Information Officer Mike Page told 11 News.

Investigators tell 11 News they have a suspect in the 14 downtown fires but are not releasing his name until they have enough evidence for a conviction.

But they say no fires in almost four months is a good sign.

"We have either gotten close to the folks or made them nervous," said Page.

However close they are in that case, they say they still are very far from having a suspect in the Grand Avenue case.

"We still want you to keep those alley ways lit up. We still want you to pay attention."

The Grand Junction Fire Department says it just sent some new evidence from one of the downtown fires over to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation lab for testing.

When the results come back, investigators say they may have enough clues to arrest their new suspect.


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