An Owensboro man has been arrested in connection to eight fires since last year.
Owensboro Police said they responded to a dumpster fire at Kroger on Starlite Drive Tuesday night, while also simultaneously attending to a vehicle fire at Good Shepherd Church on Bittel Road a little more than half a mile away.
Police used a K-9 unit to track a suspect. It wasn't long before they found Gary Milam on the Greenbelt bike path nearby.
After being questioned by detectives, Milam was arrested for the two fires along with six other fires set on October 25, 2016 on the west side of Owensboro.
The six fires from October 2016 were as follows:
-Shed fire on the 3700 block of Legacy Run
-Shed fire on the 3900 block of Shyrock Avenue
-Shed fire on the 2300 block of Bulfinch Avenue
-Vehicle fire on the 2200 block of Yates Drive
-Vehicle fire on the 2300 block of Sir Wren Court
-Vehicle fire on the 4100 block of Buckland Square
Pastor Chris Wiggs's car parked outside Good Shepherd Church when it was set on fire.
"The car was a gift. I got it about six months ago from a lady in our church. It was a '99 Toyota," he says. "My reaction was 'Are you kidding me?' and I got in the car and came over and sure enough, it was my car."
Police say it was set by Milam, who also allegedly set a dumpster outside a Kroger on fire late Tuesday night. He's also accused of setting six more fires, including three vehicle fires last October at a neighborhood just off of Tamarack Road.
"All of the locations that we were able to connect this person were of a close proximity to each other, which is another reason we were able to connect these cases," says Officer Michael Hathaway of Owensboro Police Dept.
Wiggs says this car fire wasn't the only thing he was worried about. That's because it was parked next to their youth ministry building.
"It's called KAIO Student Ministries, which in Greek actually means 'to set on fire,'" Wiggs says, describing the youth ministry building. "My concern was that the youth building would catch on fire, but it missed it. It burned the grass around, and didn't get the building. We're thankful for that."
Police say Milam faces at least ten years in prison for each arson count. Pastor Wiggs says he forgives him for what he allegedly did.
"Look, its a car, it's replaceable. He's just a kid. I hope he can get it together and get some help," he says.
According to police, Milam lived on Buckland Square.
The 18-year-old is facing eight counts of arson second degree.
Milam is facing up to twenty years in prison for each count if he's convicted.