Two Park Hills firefighters have been charged with six counts of second-degree arson.
Bradley J. Easter, 29, and Dale R. Hamor, 22, both of Park Hills, are being held in the St. Francois County Jail. Bond is set at $100,000 for each suspect.
The names were released at a 3 p.m. press conference at the Leadington Police Department.
"The reference to this is some reports we've had and some actual charges filed now on some arsons that we have been investigating during the latter part of the spring and into the summer months. At this point we have two individuals charged," said St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin.
The prosecutor says more charges could be forthcoming.
"We are still investigating this case and it looks like we could have one or two more individuals that could be involved. We are looking into further charges of possible burglary, property damage and anything else that may stem from these events. We hope to have the other individuals in custody later today or first thing the morning," Mahurin said Friday.
He added that with the investigation still ongoing there were several details that could not be released, but he believes they "have the individuals they are looking for."
According to court documents, the two volunteer firefighters are accused of setting six fires in the Park Hills area, the first of which occurred April 30 on 103 Rinke Street. The two also admitted to setting the second fire at the same address, 103 Rinke Street, at 1:20 a.m. on July 16 according to court records.
In the first Rinke Street fire, the state fire marshal determined that there were no utilities connected and ruled out any accidental causes. During interviews with police, Easter said he drove Hamor to the house in both instances and that Hamor went in and set the fire. Easter then returned and picked him up.
He continued that after the fire was set, both times they went back to the fire station and waited for a dispatch. They then went to fight the fire alongside the other firefighters.
Police say under questioning Hamor admitted to setting both fires using an ignitable liquid purchased by Easter, and using a lighter.
Although outside of city limits and in St. Francois County, the third fire was 10:25 p.m. July 23 at 4418 Route O. Police say the duo used the same method of operation as in the first fire. Easter dropped off Hamor, Hamor set the fire, and Easter picked him up. Hamor allegedly told police that in this fire he entered an unlocked door at the residence, lit a piece of paper and dropped it in gasoline.
The fourth fire occurred at 10:25 p.m. July 27 at 227 East Elvins Boulevard. Due to the extent of the damage to the two-story brick building, a cause could not be determined. However, the fire marshal reported the incident as a criminal investigation due to the fact that there were no utilities connected to the structure and this was the third fire in a vacant structure in 11 days.
Easter said he dropped off Hamor and Hamor set the fire using gasoline, according to police. However Hamor said he put down the gasoline, but Easter lit it. Easter denied being in the building.
The fifth fire happened at 2:04 a.m. Aug. 6 at 205 Front Street in Park Hills. In this instance the two suspects were assisted by another firefighter, according to statement made to police. Charges have not been filed against that individual as of this time.
Police say Easter told them Hamor drove another Park Hills firefighter to the house using his (Easter's) car. Easter said the third suspect went in and attempted to set the fire, but apparently it didn't work, so he (Easter) drove Hamor back to the house. Easter said Hamor set the fire, came back out and they returned to the firehouse.
Hamor confirmed the story and added the third firefighter kicked in the back door and attempted to set the fire. He said after no fire call came, Easter took him back to the residence and he set the fire using gasoline.
In the last arson charge, the sixth fire, both Easter and Hamor went into the house. This fire erupted at 3:15 a.m. on Aug. 29 at 306 West Fite Street in Park Hills. Fire investigators reported the origin of the blaze to be in the living room, but no cause could be determined due to the amount of damage.
The cause, according to the two firefighters in custody, was gasoline that Hamor poured on the structure and a piece of lit paper thrown down by Easter.
The arrests come as a result of a cooperative effort between local law enforcement organizations and the state fire marshal’s office. On Thursday evening the two firemen were interviewed at the Leadington Police Station by officers from the department and the Missouri Department of Conservation regarding the illegal taking of wildlife.
Authorities say it was during this interview that the firemen admitted their roles in a string of set fires that occurred earlier in the year.
"We brought them in for questioning involving the shooting of a deer and they pretty much broke down and told us how many and how long it spread out, which was a little over a year," said Leadington Police Chief Rick Pogue.
The chief said at that point they contacted the state fire marshal.