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February 21, 2018

2/1/2018 1:11:00 PM
Area firefighter charged in two cases of arson
A St. Francisville volunteer firefighter is in jail facing two counts of arson.

Kaleb Goodwin, 22, is being held without bond in Lawrence County Jail, accused of setting fire to vacant St. Francisville houses Monday and Tuesday.

Goodwin was arrested following the Tuesday fire by the Illinois Fire Marshal's Office.

According to St. Francisville Chief of Police Billy Darnell, Goodwin had "probationary" status with the Denison Fire Protection District. He was able to fight fires, Darnell said, but because of his status was not allowed to operate machinery or certain pieces of equipment.

Goodwin confessed following Tuesday's fire at an abandoned home in the 500 block of North Eighth Street in St. Francisville, Darnell explained. On Monday, there was a similar fire at a home at 13th and Johnson streets.

"Those are the two that we've tied him to," Darnell said.

Goodwin has not been connected to a Jan. 23 fire in St. Francisville that was "the same scenario," Darnell said.

Jeff Pride, with the Illinois Fire Marshal's Office, made the arrest, according to a jail report. Darnell said Pride was at the scene of both of this week's fires.

Darnell assisted in the investigation and gave credit to Denison Fire Protection District Chief John Phipps, as well as Assistant Chief T.J. Moyes.

"We all worked together to get information," said Darnell. "Jeff and I were the ones who actually interviewed him."

The confessions were made at the Denison Fire Protection District building, Darnell said.

Darnell said it was a "gut feeling" that led him to suspect Goodwin. He noted that Goodwin was quick to arrive on the scene at both of this week's fires.

"I became very suspicious," Darnell said. "He hadn't even been attending [fire department] meetings since 2016."

Darnell added it's "common" for firefighters to commit arson.

"When a string of fires happen such as this, sometimes firemen are the first people to come under suspicion," he said. "We were on the right track with him."

Darnell said that Goodwin didn't appear to be remorseful while confessing.

"I didn't see him as being apologetic," he said. "But he was pretty down on himself for being so dumb in doing it."

Depending upon the circumstances, arson can be either a Class 1 or Class 2 felony in Illinois. A Class 2 felony carries a prison sentence of from three to seven years. A Class 1 felony is punishable with a term of from four to 15 years.

Goodwin, a graduate of Lawrenceville High School, has been "in and out of trouble" in the past, Darnell said. According to the website, he has been charged with a criminal felony on at least one occasion in the past.

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