On Saturday at approximately 9:40 a.m., Pettis County Deputies were dispatched to a residential structure fire which was later determined to be Apartment 115, Villa Drive.

Sgt. DeHaven arrived first, with Deputy Cunningham arriving shortly thereafter, and they found heavy smoke rolling from the apartment.

Neighboring apartments were already evacuating/being evacuated.

Witnesses stated the occupant of 115 was last seen running towards the back of the residence.

Pettis County Fire arrived on scene and extinguished the fire, later finding evidence of arson. Assistance was then requested of the State Fire Marshal for an investigation.

A witness later found the suspect hiding in a barn south of the fire location. He admitted to starting the fire and was arrested for 1st-degree arson.

Arrested was 69-year-old John Nevels. He was placed on a 24-hour hold, pending the filing of formal charges from Pettis County Prosecutor Phillip Sawyer.

Pettis County Jail - Nevels
Pettis County Jail - Nevels

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