JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Two have been arrested in connection to a string of arsons in Jonesboro over the last year and a half. According to Detective Jason Simpkins, Jason Michael Brown was arrested for intentionally burning two homes and Christ Way Consignment. Tuesday, Brown appeared before the Craighead County District Court. He was formally charged with possession of methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit arson, arson greater than $100,000 and tampering with physical evidence. He will appear in court again July 28th.
Brown's arson charge carries a maximum sentence of 10-40 years or life in prison if convicted.
"Over the last several months, detective Vic Brooks, Fire Marshal Jason Wills and I have been involved in an investigation into a series of arsons that's occurred within the city of Jonesboro since 2010," said Simpkins. "Throughout the investigation, enough probable cause was established to issue a warrant for Mr. Brown's arrest."
According to a probable cause affidavit, Brown is accused of setting a fire to a residence at 1100 Turner, a residence at 1501 Franklin and 812 South Gee Street. The affidavit states a witness contacted a parole office in October, 2010. He reportedly had information pertaining to the three fires. The witness showed police all three properties and a polygraph examination did not show signs of deception.
"All the scene investigations are handled by our office and all of the training that we have in fire investigations is what allows us to reach the conclusions of whether or not a fire is accidental or intentionally set fire," said Fire Marshal Jason Wills. "The method of entry, how the fires are set, and those types of things seem to be similar."
According to the affidavit, the witness told police Brown bragged about being responsible for a fire that killed a dog.
"He's charged with committing three. We have approximately 12 that are still under investigation," said Simpkins.
The affidavit states officers with Jonesboro Police conducted a sting operation Thursday, May 26th, in which a confidential informant made contact with Jolene Anita Brown, Jason's wife. The meeting was recorded and monitored by police.
"He was arrested during an undercover sting operation that occurred Thursday night on Gee Street," said Simpkins. "His wife was arrested Thursday as well during the sting operation. She was taken into custody for possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit arson."
The affidavit further states Jason Brown requested $600, a package of cigarettes, Reynolds Wrap and a cigarette lighter in exchange to burn down the informant's house. The affidavit suggests Jolene bragged about Jason's ability to burn residences.
"He accepted money to commit another arson," said Simpkins.
The affidavit states police found methamphetamine and the $600 as they were arresting Jolene and Jason.
Both residences in this case have been rebuilt. Christ Way Consignment moved into a new location.
"The first thing I'll do is pray for him. I really will. He done wrong," said Virginia Barron after hearing about the arrests. "We lost everything. I had put in like 1,000 dollars of my own money in it. And the other lady did too."