By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
An investigation into a house fire last month near Vinemont has yielded one arrest for Arson, with sheriff’s investigators saying additional arrests could soon follow.
The Cullman County sheriff’s office arrested 18 year-old Jeremy West, of 390 County Road 1437, on charges of second degree Arson, after concluding he allegedly set the fire at a neighbor’s home to destroy evidence in an alleged burglary.
West was arrested following an investigation into the burglary and burning of a home on County Road 1437 across the road from the residence where he lives. Sheriff’s investigator Randy Frost said the department was able to trace the subsequent resale of some rare firearms allegedly taken from the home to the Lacon trade market, where a vendor became suspicious about the manner in which the weapons changed hands and informed police.
West is currently being held in the Cullman County detention center on a $70,000 cash bond. The sheriff’s office has also requested a bond revocation on a separate, unrelated charge of attempted murder against West in Morgan County.
The fire occurred in the early hours of Nov. 15, and was fully involved when responders from the Vinemont-Providence volunteer fire department arrived. Chief deputy Max Bartlett said the homeowners were not in Cullman at the time of the blaze, but noted in the aftermath that a number of valuables, including the weapons, appeared to be missing.
“After they arrived and were able to go through the home, the owners observed they had several items missing — firearms, TVs, personal effects,” Bartlett said. “The state fire marshal was called in to assist in the investigation. It was determined that it was an incendiary, multiple-point-of-origin fire, which is an indicator of arson.
“As the investigation continued, Randy [Frost] was able to develop information in regard to persons who had sold some property at a local trade day at Lacon; items which matched the descriptions of some of the missing weapons. Randy traveled to Lacon and was able to locate and identify persons who had purchased some of these items. A witness there was suspicious of a number of individuals there who were selling the items, and recorded a tag number which was furnished to our investigative unit.”
Sheriff Mike Rainey said making an arrest can’t take the place of losing a home, but extended the hope it will offer some solace to the victims.
“The home was pretty much a total loss. The victims are staying with an aunt. They had been here at least 15 years at this place,” he said. “They actually had two homes — one in Mobile and the one here. You hate it for this family, because they had so much stored up and invested in that home, and they lost most of it. We’re still investigating this case, and we hope we can locate and apprehend anybody else who may have been involved.”
Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.