Horton held in arson case

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

An East Brewton man was arrested Saturday night after an argument ended with him allegedly setting his father’s house on fire.
Jesse Thomas Horton, 32, is facing charges of arson after he torched the home he and his father shared at 205 Neal Street in East Brewton. Horton’s father, James Horton, was not injured in the incident.
James Horton said his son’s actions had left him virtually homeless following the blaze that destroyed his home.
“My son came into the house and had gotten into something that made him go a little nuts,” James Horton said. “He told me he was going to burn the place down, but I didn’t pay much attention to what he said and went on to a neighbor’s house. I’d been there just a little bit and somebody knocked on the door and told me my house was burning. By that time there really wasn’t anything I could do but watch it burn.”
Horton said he plans to try and rebuild a home in the same location — but it’s going to be a difficult process.
“I lost everything, but I’m hanging in there,” James Horton said Friday. “Right now, I’m staying with a friend, but it is a temporary situation. I hope to rebuild there. That’s my plan for now, I just have to figure out how to make that happen.”
East Brewton Police Sgt. Clemente Brooks said the incident had the potential to have been a far more dangerous situation.
“Jesse Horton had gotten into an argument with his father and was mad enough to set the house on fire,” Brooks said. “His father had just left the home at the time of the fire. Jesse left the home after setting the fire, but returned to the scene while witnesses and responders were still there.”
Brooks said Horton was arrested based on information he received from witnesses at the time of the fire.
“I had questioned some of the witnesses and their comments lead me to suspect that Jesse was responsible for setting the fire,” Brooks said. “When he returned to the scene, he was arrested on arson charges.”
Alabama State Fire Marshal Mike Talley was summoned to the Neal Street address to conduct an investigation since the fire was of a suspicious nature.
“We want to thank Mike Talley for his work in investigating this case and helping us out,” Brooks said. ‘He came down and conducted an investigation that included going to the scene of the fire and questioning witnesses in the case. He confirmed the incident was arson which went along with what we discovered in the case as well.”
Brooks said. Horton was also charged with public intoxication in connection with the incident.
“Based on what we knew from our initial investigation, we wanted to make sure we had the suspect where we knew we could find him until the fire marshal could complete an investigation,” Brooks said. “That theory was the right one and we are glad to be able to make this a quick resolution in the case.”
James Horton said the work of the firefighters who responded to the blaze deserved praise for their job.
“I just want to thank all the firefighters for what they did to try and save my home,” James Horton said, fighting tears. “It’s hard not to cry about all of this when I think about what happened. I appreciate all they did.”
An account has been established for the purpose of donations to James Horton at First Exchange Bank in Brewton. In order to make a contribution to help with living expenses and rebuilding, send checks made payable to James Thomas Horton to First Exchange Bank, P.O. Box 383, Brewton, AL 36427. Bank officials say Horton will be notified of deposits by amount and last name of depositors unless otherwise requested by donors.
Horton’s home was not insured and rebuilding may be hampered because of that, friends say.
Jesse Horton was booked into the Escambia County Detention Center on the charges against him and was being held on $25,000 bond.

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