North Vernon man facing arson charge

NORTH VERNON

North Vernon police arrested a 27-year-old man Friday morning on a preliminary charge of arson and a warrant after an apartment fire.

The incident that led to the arrest of Jonathan N. White of North Vernon on the Level 4 felony charge began when police and firefighters were sent to 23 W. Poplar St. at 11:11 p.m. Thursday after a report of an apartment fire.

Sgt. Keith Messer with the police department arrived first and began fighting the fire with a fire extinguisher until North Vernon firefighters arrived, said Sgt. Andrew Richmond, a spokesman with the police department.

Officers checked five other attached apartments to make sure everyone had evacuated, Richmond said.

The fire scene became a criminal investigation when witnesses told officers the fire was set intentionally, Richmond said.

During the investigation, police were told that White had been seen dousing the apartment with gasoline and lighting it just before the fire was reported, Richmond said.

Officers could not find White at the apartment fire.

On Friday morning, officers recovered a gasoline can from a yard one street north of the fire, Richmond said. The homeowner told police the gas can wasn’t his and he hadn’t seen it before.

At 9 a.m. Friday, Lt. Randall Marshall and Detective Ivory Sandefur received information on White’s location.

Officers went to the 1000 block north of County Road 400E and located and arrested White, who was walking along the road near an abandoned trailer, Richmond said.

White also was arrested on a warrant for probation violations, Richmond said.

He is being held in the Jennings County Jail on $5,125 cash bond pending his initial hearing.

A Level 4 felony is punishable by three to 16 years in prison upon conviction.