- Possible suspect has been convicted of arson in the past
Following the burning of the Bridegton Bridge, "a person of interest" is being held in the Parke County Jail on an unrelated charge after a deputy picked him up near the Mansfield Covered Bridge, a Parke County official said Thursday.
At 12:44 a.m. Thursday the Parke County Sheriff's Department responded to the fire of the historic Bridgeton Bridge.
"When the call was received, several deputies were dispatched to several bridges," Parke County Sheriff Charles Bollinger said at the jail.
Bollinger declined to comment on the name of the suspect but did say he was taken in for violating his probation Thursday morning outside the Mansfield Covered Bridge after serving time for a 2002 arson conviction.
The Parke County Jail refused to give The Brazil Times a listing of people admitted to the jail Thursday.
"I'm not going to comment on what his intentions were at that area," Bollinger said.
The suspect, a Parke County native residing in Vigo County, violated his probation when he did not inform his parole officer of his address change, he said.
The previous arson charge was related to an apartment fire and not to any bridge fires, but Bollinger did confirm the suspect was "a person of interest" in the 2002 fire of Jeffries Ford Bridge.
When the man was approached Thursday, Bollinger said the suspect cooperated with the deputy and immediately gave the deputy an alibi. The sheriff would not comment on the man's alibi or what was found in his vehicle, but did say there was something.
Since he was taken into the jail, the suspect has cooperated. Bollinger de-clined to say whether the man had taken a polygraph test or not.
The investigation is continuing and, "We're hoping in the next couple of days we can bring this case to a conclusion.
"We do have a witness that was in the area, but I do not want to comment on what he saw," Bollinger said.
Deputies took tire castings from a possible suspect's vehicle at the scene.
Following the investigation, "There are several different charges the prosecutor could file, if any," he said. "I hope that everyone is not looking for a lot of answers in this case because we're still under investigation."
It is not known if the bridge will be rebuilt.
Estimates are being gathered on rebuilding it without any cost to taxpayers.
Bollinger said the mill located next to the former structure suffered little damage.
"It has a very bad impact as far as this county's concerned," he said.