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Mother, daughter arrested for Coalmont arson

Thursday, October 27, 2005

As part of an ongoing investigation into a 2004 Coalmont arson case, the Clay County Sheriff's Department, arrested one woman on two counts of arson, and amended the charges filed against her daughter on Wednesday.

Special Prosecutor Hal Johnston announced the arrest of Bertha M. Bedwell, 61, Coalmont, and the amendment of charges filed against her daughter, Samantha J. Bascom, 46, Coalmont, for their involvement in a fire that destroyed a home owned by Bascom located at 6815 W. Public Road at Coalmont.

Around 5 a.m. on June 6, 2004, the Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Department found the structure fully engulfed when they responded to a 911 call. The homewas being sold on contract to another family that was in the process of moving at the time of the fire. No one was home and the building was a total loss.

During an investigation into the fire, a juvenile came forward with information detailing Bascom's involvement in the fire. The juvenile told officials that Bascom and her juvenile son had developed a plan to burn the home for insurance money and that he had been offered $500 to be paid when the insurance money was collected. He reported that Bascom had provided the key to enter the home and the materials to start the fire.

A second juvenile also came forward during the investigation, reporting that Bascom had tried to recruit him to burn down the home. He had refused to become involved with the plot, but did witness Bascom talking with the other two about the plan.

Detective Sergeant Rob Gambill interviewed Bascom about the fire in 2004. She initially denied any knowledge of what happened, but eventually admitted her part in the plot.

Bascom was arrested and charged with Arson, a Class B felony, in 2004, but investigation continued.

Earlier this month, at the request of Clay County Prosecutor B. Lee Reberger, Jr., Chief Deputy Prosecutor of Knox County Hal Johnston was appointed Special Prosecutor in the case by Judge Blaine Akers on October 7.

Charged with Conspiracy To Commit Arson For Hire, a Class B Felony, and Arson For Hire, a Class B Felony, Bedwell was arrested and booked into the Clay County jail yesterday with a bond set at $25,000, with 10 percent allowed.

Bascom is now facing additional charges of Conspiracy To Commit Arson For Hire, a Class B Felony, Arson For Hire, a Class B Felony, Fraud, a Class D Felony, and two charges of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, both Class A Misdemeanors.

Special Prosecutor Johnston, who is experienced in handling arson cases, will be the prosecuting attorney in Samantha Bascom's trial, which is currently set for Feb. 13.

Bedwell's trial date wasnot available at press time.



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