Grudge led to two arsons, man says — (The Post-Tribune)

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The Post-Tribune

October 12, 2007

By Andy Grimm Post-Tribune staff writer

MERRILLVILLE — A man who allegedly set fire to three cars he thought belonged to a man with whom he had a personal grudge faces arson charges.

Lake County prosecutors have charged Joshua A. Jen with two counts of arson in connection with fires set July 24 and Sept. 15 outside a home in the 6800 block of Van Buren Place.

After Jen allegedly set fire to his antagonist’s Chevrolet Impala in July, the victim bought a Mitsubishi Galant that was identical to one owned by his neighbor.

The night of Sept. 15, after calling his victim and warning him, “I know what kind of car you have,” Jen allegedly came over again and set fire to a Galant parked in front of the man’s house.

Unfortunately, it was a neighbor’s Galant that was parked in front of the home of Jen’s intended target. The flames spread to another of the neighbor’s cars that was parked next to the Galant.

Witnesses on both occasions saw a man staggering away from the victim’s house and climb into a large pickup and drive away shortly before hearing explosions and seeing the flaming cars in front of the house.

Detectives Jeff Snemis and Jeff Rice interviewed Jen at his home in Hebron the next day. Jen initially denied involvement in the fires, then said he was afraid to admit what he had done for fear his wife would leave him or that he might not be allowed to use firearms if he were charged with a felony.

Jen told police he had been taking antidepressants and had been drinking both nights and the night of Sept. 15 was “one major blur.”

Police said Jen went to the Merrillville Police Station the next week and formally confessed.

Contact Andy Grimm at 648-3073 or agrimm@post-trib.com