Marion County Sheriff Roger Vickers said investigators are looking into the arson of the home of one of the suspects in last month’s dragging assault of a Lakeway man.
According to Vickers, one of his deputies was on his way to a call at Peel after midnight Sunday morning when he saw flames off of Highway near Welcome Ridge Road at Lakeway.
Those flames were coming from the house where 24-year-old Nichole Jones, also known as Nichole Murphy, told police she’d been living.
“There’s no doubt about that it’s arson,” he said. “It burned it to the ground.”
Vickers said someone had shot Jones’ dog and poured accelerants on the house. No one was home at the time.
That house is where all five suspects had congregated the night they allegedly beat Christopher Collier, 24, and dragged him about 1,400 feet behind a pickup on Highway 14, Vickers said.
Gregg Bryant, 20, Martin Zobus, 31, Felisha Besse, 21, all of rural Boone County, James Bennett, 19, of Yellville and Jones have all pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal attempt to commit capital murder and first degree battery in the case, Vickers said.
He said Jones, Bennett and Bryant have all been released on bond, but Besse and Zobus were still being held in the Marion County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond Thursday afternoon.
As for the burning of Jones’ house, Vickers said investigators are still doing interviews with potential witnesses and suspects.
In some cases, a criminal will burn a structure to hide evidence of a crime, but Vickers said investigators had already searched the house before it burned.
“We were through with the place and had no reason to go back,” he said.
No arrests had been made as of Thursday evening.
“We’re still investigating it,” Vickers said.