COLES COUNTY -- Investigators say they can tie 14 fires to one man. The string of arson sparked about 1-1/2 years ago. Police say 37-year old Joseph Derixson started those fires.
The most recent was just outside the Salvation Army in Mattoon Friday night. It's in the 1300-block of Richmond Avenue. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.
The fires had been escalating over time. They were happening more frequently. On top of that, they were getting more serious. What started out as debris and dumpster fires turned into cars and sheds. People say they're glad police made an arrest before things got worse.
Captain Jeff Eddy sees a lot of stuff go in and out of the Salvation Army. They keep busy there during the day, but he says many more drop off donations at night. This past weekend, it wasn't a donor who happened to catch the Captain's attention.
"Walked back to the box and started a fire there with some cardboard," said Eddy. "You could see him light the fire and walk away."
Investigators say Joseph Derixson came to the Salvation Army's back door late Friday night. He may not have noticed this surveillance camera.
"There's other things around that are very flammable and I guess we're just very blessed he chose to start that box on fire and not something that would have caused a lot more damage," said Eddy.
The box had recyclable electronics inside, which can still be salvaged.
"It's important to us because we use that money to help people," said Eddy. "So we really do our best to take care of those donations."
Investigators say the needed this video to tie Derixson to the scene. They say they can connect him to at least a dozen other arsons in the past 18 months, maybe more. Police say, so far, Derixson's been cooperating, but he still hasn't told them why all this started.
"He just said he did it," said Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson. "He really didn't give us any kind of reason at all. It was really kind of odd, but usually these kinds of arsons are kind of odd."
The Salvation Army just put up the camera in the past year. The Captain says he's glad they were able to help.
Police are investigating 18 cases of arson. They say they can connect Derixson to 14 of them, including a fire which damaged three cars at K.C. Summers; a dealership in the city. Investigators say Derixson may also be involved in a shed fire which damaged a home.
Original: 12:27 pm
COLES COUNTY -- A Mattoon man faces charges of arson. Police arrested 37-year old Joseph Derixson Saturday morning. They say he started a fire near the Salvation Army in the 1300-block of Richmond.
Authorities may also charge him with nearly a dozen more arsons which have taken place the past 18-months. The investigation is ongoing.
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