Frankfort, Ind. – Through a dedicated investigation by Frankfort firefighter investigators and detectives from the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, two arson arrests were made yesterday in the August 3 fire on State Road 39 North.
At 10:00 p.m. August 10, Jennifer Matthews (Carter) and Joshua Smith were arrested and taken into custody. Based on formal charges filed today, Matthews was charged with Arson and Insurance Fraud. Smith was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Arson. Both are being held in the Clinton County Jail.
According to Firefighter and Investigator Jeremy Ward, two fires were called in within minutes of each other early in the morning Thursday, August 3.
“The call for the first fire at 1357 Clinton Street was called in at 1:58 a.m. as a fully involved structure fire. We knocked down that fire quickly and it still is under investigation.
“When the second fire on State Road 39 North came in at 2:10 a.m. also as a fully-involved structure fire, Engine #2 was pulled from the Clinton Street fire and sent to the scene at 39 North. Battalion Chief Jamie Michael called in 12 off-duty firefighters, sending some to Clinton Street and some to 39 North with the remaining ones sent to headquarters to be available for the rest of the community. He also called for mutual aid from the Mulberry and Rossville Fire Departments, with both sent to the 39 North scene.
“We spent more than 30 personnel hours investigating the 39 North fire and a week later, there are two people in custody on arson charges. This case was a true joint effort between our department’s Investigation Division and Clinton County Sheriff’s Office detectives. As fire investigators, our team worked diligently to identify the fire origin and then we shared information with the Sheriff’s Office. Detective Jerrad Blacker did an excellent job with the suspects’ interviews and the criminal charges.
“A great deal of hard work was put into this investigation and it’s satisfying to know the suspects are in custody and the community is protected from them,” Ward said.
According to Blacker, teamwork and solid investigatory evidence was key to this case.
“Everyone involved in this case worked very hard over the past week since the fire happened to reach the point of arrests being made. We will continue our teamwork to help ensure justice is served,” Blacker said.
Fire Chief John Kirby expressed his appreciation for the outstanding job done by the Department’s six-member Investigation Division and Detective Blacker.
“Our firefighters did a great job on both fires that morning. Fire Investigator Jeremy Ward along with our Investigation Division members and Detective Blacker are extremely dedicated public safety servants who did everything right to identify and arrest those now charged in the serious crime of arson,” Kirby said.
The State Road 39 structure was destroyed, with the scene cleared around 6:45 a.m. No injuries were reported at either fire scene.