VAN ZANDT COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – After a five month investigation, two Grand Saline residents were charged with arson in connection to a house on fire on Thanksgiving day 2020.
28-year-old Brand Lee Harrison and 30-year-old Carl Klump were both arrested for multiple charges.
Harrison was charged with arson with intent to damage a habitation of worship, theft of property, burglary of a building, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of marijuana.
Klump was also charged with arson with intent to damage a habitation of worship, possession of a controlled substance and theft of property.
On Thanksgiving morning last year, Ben Wheeler firefighters responded to a fire on 1514 County Road 4601. When officials arrived, the home was completely destroyed.
Chief Deputy Bob Keltner recognized that the address was from a recent eviction and thought the fire appeared suspicious.
Keltner called the Van Zandt County Fire Marshall Danny Wilson, the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Petree and opened an investigation.
The investigation revealed a stolen vehicle at the scene and a nearby surveillance video indicated other felonies that occurred prior to the fire including burglary and theft.
The surveillance video revealed to officials that the fire was more than likely arson and appeared “extremely suspicious.”
ATF then provided specialized investigators to assist with processing the fire.
Officials were able to determine the fire was set intentionally, but said that it was difficult to prove who caused the fire.
Keltner was contacted by the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Troopers in Canton who had arrested a suspect that mentioned the fire.
Officials made contact with the suspect the Kaufman County Jail and had an interview that moved the investigation forward.
Officials learned that Harrison and Klump traveled to the Ben Wheeler residence to commit burglary and theft and in the process stopped to smoke Methamphetamine inside the home. Soon after, according to officials, the house was on fire.
The victims, both the resident and the homeowner, lost everything.
“Thieves are our normal customers, being that we usually investigate property crimes,” Constable Pat Jordan said. “But a crook that will break into your house, steal your valuables and then burn your house down when they leave is a different cut of criminal. We are absolutely going to vigorously investigate that crime and assist in the prosecution as would any law enforcement agency.”
Harrison and Klump have remained in custody at the Van Zandt County Jail waiting for their indictment and prosecution.
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