Halloween fire brings four arrests

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2005

A Halloween fire in Harpersville damaged a bale of cotton valued at about $7,500.

According to David Latimer, who serves as fire marshal for both Vincent and Harpersville, the fire occurred at about 11 p.m. Oct. 31 and involved someone setting fire to a bale of cotton.

The fire occurred on Highway 62 just off Highway 83, near Lighthouse Church.

The bale of cotton, he said, belonged to a local farmer, Paul Tate of Harpersville.

Latimer said through tips from citizens, four suspects were identified and interviewed by Tuesday, Nov. 1.

He said the investigation revealed that a charcoal lighter fluid was used to start the fire.

And, he said, his accelerate detection dog, Midnight, confirmed the presence of an ignitable liquid on the remains of a makeshift torch found at the scene.

According to Latimer, the fire patterns on the cotton were consistent with an accelerant being sprayed onto the side of the bale and ignited.

Latimer said the investigation was a joint effort between Harpersville Police investigator David Bearden and himself.

Latimer said three of the suspects confessed during the interviews and the case was referred to the Shelby County district attorney’s office on Nov. 2.

He said the DA’s office issued warrants for all four suspects for first-degree criminal mischief, a Class C felony.

Latimer said two of the suspects are adults and two are juveniles and all are white males.

The district attorney’s office did not return telephone calls regarding the case.