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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sheriff's Department confirms identity of 'person of interest' in bridge blaze

Monday, May 2, 2005

A Parke County law enforcement official confirmed Friday that Jesse Payne, 34, is the "person of interest" the Sheriff's Department is questioning. Payne was arrested after fire consumed the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.

No charges have been filed against anyone at this time.

Parke County Sheriff's Department Communications Specialist Rob McMullen confirmed Payne was being held, but said no new evidence had surfaced as of Friday.

Parke County Sheriff Charles Bollinger was unavailable for comment, McMullen said.

At 12:44 a.m. Thursday, the PCSD responded to a call that the Bridgeton Bridge was burning. Hours later the bridge was completely destroyed. Investigators from the Indiana State Fire Marshall's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are examining the cause of the fire.

State Fire Marshal Roger Johnson was not in his office Friday.

Payne is being held on an unrelated charge of violating his probation. A Parke County native, Payne was residing in Vigo County without informing his parole officer.

He has served time for a 2002 arson conviction, Bollinger said Thursday. The previous arson charge was related to an apartment fire and not to any bridge fires. However, Bollinger did say Payne was "a person of interest" in the 2002 fire of Jeffries Ford Bridge.

After the fire was reported to the Sheriff's Department, deputies were dispatched to several of the surrounding covered bridges in Parke County. Payne was arrested Thursday while sitting in his vehicle near the Mansfield Covered Bridge, Bollinger said.

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