Sugar Mill Creek Arson Suspect Appears in Court

Published 04/16 2014 05:17PM

Updated 04/16 2014 05:23PM

The woman who allegedly set fire to her apartment at Sugar Mill Creek last week makes her initial court appearance. The court appearance provided the first glimpse into the woman who allegedly told police she started the fire because 'the voices in her head told her to,' according to police records.

Michelle Hershberger, 47, appeared in Vanderburgh County Circuit Court via video conference Wednesday afternoon. She was officially charged with one count of arson in connection with the fire that destroyed the entire apartment building on April 9th. The building was demolished a week later.

Hershberger was under the care of ResCare at the time of the fire, police said. ResCare is an agency that offers services to people with disabilities. Hershberger used a lighter to set the curtains on fire, police said. According to fire officials, the blaze quickly spread to the rest of the building because the attic did not have firewalls.

Wearing a red jump suit, Hershberger used a walker to make her way to the podium at the Vanderburgh County Jail for her hearing.

In a typical court appearance, the judge will read a defendant all of their rights, all at one time and then ask if the defendant understands those rights. During Hershberger's appearance, however, the judge had to read each right individually, pausing to ask if she understood them. Hershberger told the judge she understood those rights.

Hershberger also told the judge she plans on contacting her mother in hopes of hiring an attorney. She remains in jail on a $100,000 cash bond. The court also ordered her not to contact Sugar Mill Creek Apartments as a condition of her bond.

She's due back in court on April 30th.

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