The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

April 1, 2013

Arson suspect 'wanted to be done with it'

KNOXVILLE — Authorities say the suspected arsonist who set a major fire in Knoxville last week was tired of cleaning the building in which the fire was set.

The fire broke out around 1:50 p.m. Monday, March 25. Nicholas Wade Carter, 18, of Knoxville, was cleaning at 110 East Robinson and allegedly set the fire in the hopes of being "done with it." A passerby reported the fire by calling 911.

In an affidavit filed over the weekend by Lt. Justin Kingrey, the Marion County Sheriff's Office fire investigator, Kingery states there were two individuals in the building before the fire began. He says Carter was one of them, and that Carter was present minutes before the call came into the sheriff's office. Carter has allegedly conceded he was at the building.

The fire began when a candle was lit and the open flame was placed near combustible materials. Carter is accused of intentionally walking out with the candle burning. The candle was placed out of the sight of the second individual.

Court records say that Carter knew his friend would put the flame out if the friend had seen it, and Carter did not want that to happen.

Kingrey's complaint against Carter reads, "(Carter) wanted to burn some of the stuff that was in the building because he was tired of cleaning the items out of the building and just wanted to be done with it."

Five fire departments (City of Knoxville, Knoxville Township, Indiana Township, Pleasantville and Pella) responded to the blaze. It was knocked down within two hours. Knoxville Fire Chief Nick Bonstell and Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt both released statements over the weekend, regarding the fire and ensuing investigation.

Sandholdt especially wanted to recognize the work of Lt. Justin Kingrey, "Lt. Kingrey spent a lot of time focusing on this case so that we would know the truth. His experience as a former fire fighter and now arson investigator for the Sheriff's Office was very beneficial during this investigation.”

"This should be a clear message to anyone in the City of Knoxville that we will aggressively investigate all fires," Bonstell said. "We will not tolerate arson. The cooperation between the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the City of Knoxville was pivotal in this case. Thanks to everyone who worked long and hard on this case."

Carter is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

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