Saturday, June 02, 2018

Surveillance camera footage leads to charges against Jasper man, accused of setting fire to his girlfriend's car, two others at Carthage body shop

Bond has been set at $50,000 cash or surety for a Jasper man who faces four felony charges after allegedly setting his girlfriend's car and two others afire May 23 at Grundy's Body Shop.

The probable cause statement indicates the Carthage Police Department did not have to wait long to identify Joseph Eugene Cochran, 37, Jasper, as the chief suspect.

The investigation was helped considerably by surveillance cameras that appear to show Cochran setting the fire, leaving Grundy's Body Shop, then making a U-turn and stopping to watch the blaze.

From the probable cause statement:

Grundy's Body Shop video surveillance showed a white male dump a liquid accelerant on two of the vehicles, focusing on Jamey Smith's 2007 Ford Escape. The other vehicle, a 2015 Hyundai Elantra, is registered to a James Knight of Carthage.

The third vehicle is registered to Matthew Chambers of Carthage, 2014 Dodge Durango. These three vehicles estimated damages totaled $21,787.04. No estimate of damage to Grundy's Body Shop south wall has been presented to Carthage detectives.

The white male was identified as Joseph Eugene Cochran, Jamey Smith's boyfriend. Video surveillance showed at approximately 3:58 a.m., Cochran entered the property at Grundy's Body Shop, 140 S. Main. Cochran is then seen on video attempting to start a fire on Smith's front passenger tire of her Ford Escape at 4 a.m. Cochran turned and attempted to ignite a flame under the driver's side tire of the Hyundai Elantra. Cochran ignited a flfame and ran east out of camera view.

Several minutes later, Cochran's silver/grey Jeep Wrangler is seen westbound on Mound and making a U-turn to view the vehicles on fire from a northern position.

The fire burned out and the Jeep left the area. On 5/23/2018 at 5:07 a.m., Cochran is observed again on camera pouring a liquid accelerant, believed to be Red Die Diesel, over the hood of Smith's vehicle and on the hood of the Hyundai. Cochran ignited the accelerant and left running east bound, after dropping the gas can on the scene, with all three vehicles on fire.

Cochran is charged with second degree arson and three counts of knowingly burning or exploding, all felonies.

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