A North Vernon teenager admits to being connected to two of three recent Lovett Township arson cases.

Three houses not far away from each other in Lovett Township were completely engulfed in flames a week ago. The first fire occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 22; the second in the early hours of Monday, May 24 and the third occurred just before midnight on the same day.

A break in the case came when Sgt. Cody Low with the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene of the third house fire and discovered a wallet in the rear of the house’s property near some tire tracks that were visible in the dewy grass.

North Vernon resident Hunter Spicer’s name was on the driver’s license found in the wallet. Sgt. Low was familiar with Spicer from a previous incident and shared Spicer’s vehicle description with Deputy Thomas Mellencamp.

Both Sgt. Low and Deputy Mellencamp located Spicer’s vehicle on State Road 3 early Tuesday morning. Spicer was driving the vehicle with two juvenile males as passengers. Marijuana was detected and all three were asked to exit the vehicle and taken into custody. Engine starting fluid was found during the subsequent search of the vehicle along with drug paraphernalia.

Spicer initially denied having any knowledge of the fires to Sgt. Low.

When Deputy Mellencamp questioned Spicer about Monday night’s events, however, he stated that the two juveniles were responsible and that he was just a driver and didn’t know what his passengers had intended to do.

Upon further questioning, Spicer stated that he had picked up the two juveniles at CSL around 9 p.m. Monday evening to drive around and smoke marijuana. They eventually parked at the Lovett house at 5335 S CR 200 W, at which time the juveniles exited Spicer’s truck. Spicer then heard a window smash and saw flames. Spicer said he did not enter the house, though Deputy Mellencamp detected the strong smell of gasoline emitting from Spicer’s person and the inside of his truck, to which Spicer explained that he had just put gas in his vehicle. However one of the juveniles, who also claimed busting the window, later contradicted Spicer’s statement and said that all three had entered the home together.

When Deputy Mellencamp inquired about the other recent house fires, Spicer admitted to only being present for two, but couldn’t remember what day the second fire was set, and that he had been with the same two juvenile males. Similarly to the Monday evening fire, he said they parked at the house to smoke and the juveniles busted a back door in order to gain access to the house and fled after the fire was started.

Only the juvenile who claimed to have busted the window of the third house was questioned, with his father present, but was quickly advised by his father to stop. The mother of the second juvenile refused to let deputies question her son.

Both juveniles were taken to the Hamilton County Juvenile Detection Center and Spicer was released with a Promise to Appear on May 27. His initial hearing is scheduled for June 24 and he is being charged with arson, burglary, possession of paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and criminal mischief.