Arson charge filed after house fire

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MT. COMFORT — A Whiteland man who a county woman said had previously tried to hurt her is accused of setting the woman’s home on fire in early November.

Kenneth Morton Carson, 43, 400 block of Mooreland Drive, Whiteland, is facing a Level 4 felony count of arson and is in the Hancock County Jail. He made his initial appearance in Hancock County Circuit Court on Tuesday, Dec. 7. Judge Scott Sirk set a $50,000 cash bond.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a woman contacted police in October to report that Carson was threatening to kill himself and that he had also threatened to stab her in the past. The woman told officials there was a no-contact order against him but it had yet to be served.

Carson was eventually served the order by sheriff’s deputies, the affidavit said, but he continued to harass the woman via text and phone messages. Due to Carson’s medical needs, he could not be arrested at the time for the violations of the order, the report stated.

On Nov. 1, officers were dispatched to the woman’s home, across the road from Mt. Comfort Elementary School, 5694 West County Road 300N, for a reported arson. First-responders found the west side of the house had caught fire, the affidavit said.

Buck Creek Township Fire Department officials found the presence of an accelerant, the affidavit said. Investigators found Carson at Community Hospital East on Nov. 2; hospital officials told them some of his clothes had smelled of gasoline when he arrived. They also found his cigarettes had the same gold ring around the butt as those found at the scene of the fire.

Officials also were able to talk with an Uber driver who gave Carson a ride to the hospital, and the driver noted Carson smelled of gasoline, the affidavit said.

When investigators were finally able to talk with Carson on Nov. 30, he said he set out to kill himself on the night of Oct. 31 and did soak himself with gasoline. But he changed his mind about hurting himself, the affidavit said.

Investigators then told him GPS evidence from his phone showed he had walked from a gas station to the woman’s house that night. Carson said he might have been in the area but wasn’t near her house, the affidavit said.

Detectives, however, found a text on Carson’s phone he had sent that stated, “I’m not about to kill myself, I’m gonna hurt her. I’m so damn mad,” the affidavit said.