Arson suspect faces 8 felony charges, neighbors still have questions

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Marion County Prosecutors office has filed eight felony arson charges against a man suspected of setting fires in two Indianapolis neighborhoods last month.

The level 4 felony counts were filed Friday against 43-year-old John Amos.  Investigators believe Amos set a June 22 fire on Broadway Street, causing heavy damage to the home of his ex-girlfriend’s father.  They also believe Amos set the June 23 fires in the 1600 block of Lawrence Avenue, not far from University of Indianapolis (U-Indy).

According to court documents, the owner of the Broadway Street home told investigators he had been having recent trouble with Amos.  He said Amos had been sleeping in his gazebo and charging his phone on his front porch, despite the homeowners efforts to make Amos leave.  Court documents say the homeowner showed investigators several threatening text messages Amos sent him before the fire, in which the homeowner had to jump from a second floor window to escape.

Investigators later became aware that a man matching Amos’ description was caught on a Ring doorbell security camera carrying various items across the yard of homeowner Marvin Selva, nearly 10 miles to the south near U-Indy.

The time stamp on the video matched the time frame of an arson investigation in the 1600 block of Lawrence Avenue.  In that case, fire had destroyed a car and damaged the nearby home and another car.

Several other homeowners on the same block reported items moved or stacked in their yards in an apparent attempt to start more fires.

Arson detectives found enough evidence to send eight arson counts against Amos to the Marion County Prosecutors office.

“With an investigation like this, it’s ongoing,” said IMPD spokesperson, Officer Genae Cook.  “And it doesn’t stop once the paperwork is presented to the prosecutors office.”

While investigating the fires, arson investigators learned Amos had been arrested by Carmel Police last Wednesday on an unrelated warrant.  Amos was wanted in Hamilton County for failure to appear in court on an outstanding charge of driving while suspended.  Arson investigators traveled to Hamilton County to interview Amos last week, but he refused to talk, according to court documents.

“Whether or not a person talks to us is always important,” Cook said.  “But we don’t always find out why someone does something.”

While court documents indicate Amos’ motive for the Broadway Street fire as being the result of a personal dispute, it’s still unclear why he allegedly targeted properties on the south side of Indianapolis.

Selva and the neighbors on his block say they don’t recognize Amos, and they can’t find any connection between their neighborhood and the Broadway Street fire.  While prosecutors don’t have to prove motive in court in order to win a conviction, Selva would love to know why his neighborhood was targeted.

“We might never know,” Selva said.  “Unless he actually tells us what’s happening, then we definitely get the 100-percent understanding.”

John Amos’ criminal history dates back to 1995 and includes drugs, battery, theft and other charges.  This is the first time he’s been charged with arson.

Cook said Amos will be transported to Marion County to face the arson charges as soon as his Hamilton County case is resolved.

Selva says he may never get all the answers he wants, but he is glad to see the investigation moving forward.

“The first answer I have for myself is that he’s incarcerated,” Selva said.  “So I think that puts a big ease, not only on my family and myself, but our neighbors.”

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