A Middlesboro man is facing multiple felony charges in connection with a fire that damaged a police officer's home.
Fire crews and police officers were notified March 19 of a structure fire on the 500 block of Lothbury Avenue, according to a release from the Middlesboro Police Department. Once on the scene, responders discovered that a home owned by Middlesboro Police Officer Barry Cowan was on fire.
Crews were able to extinguish the fire, but not before the structure suffered considerable damage. Cowan had purchased the home a few months earlier and had just completed remodeling it. He had planned to move into the house the following week.
Investigators found evidence at the scene that led them to determine the fire had been deliberately set.
Alphaeus Witherspoon, 33, emerged as a leading suspect due to "evidentiary circumstances surrounding the method of entry, type of fire, and recent arrests made by Cowan," the release from Middlesboro Police stated.
A separate drug trafficking investigation led to a search warrant being executed March 23 on two Wilderness Road residences connected to Witherspoon.
"In the process of collecting evidence related to drug trafficking, additional evidence was recovered relating the fire," the police release explained.
Witherspoon was arrested on drug charges at the time of the search.
On Friday, Witherspoon was charged with Arson second degree and retaliating against participant in the legal process. Both are felonies.
He's being held at the Knox County Detention Center on $500,000 bond and will be arragined in Bell District Court on a future date.