Business owner charged with arson
ELKINS — A trucking company owner, whose business sustained $60,000 in fire damages last year, was arrested Wednesday morning and is being accused of having a role in the crime.
Jason B. Collins, 42, has been charged with multiple felonies including first-degree arson, third-degree arson, burning or attempting to burn insured property, three counts of burning personal property, burning of a dwelling and conspiracy.
Collins is being held in the Tygarts Valley Regional Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond set by Randolph County Magistrate Mike Dyer.
Earlier this month, Elwood “Lynn” Hebb, 45, was arrested after turning himself in to authorities following an extensive 13-month investigation into the fire, which occurred at the Anytime Trucking Company, at 92 Apache Dr. in Elkins, on May 25, 2020. Hebb had been an employee of the trucking company.
Hebb was charged with one count of first-degree arson, three counts of third-degree arson, one count of burning insured property, and one count of conspiracy. He is being held at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond set by Randolph County Magistrate Tracy Harper.
According to the criminal complaint that was prepared by Assistant State Fire Marshal Joe Vacchio, remaining physical evidence in the case, coupled with the digital data recovered and statements from both Hebb, Collins and other witnesses, showed Collins paid $5,000 to Hebb to set fire to his vehicles in an effort to collect the insurance money and purchase new vehicles.
During his interview with the State Police detachment in Elkins, Hebb allegedly stated that there are several other people who should be blamed for the arson. The complaint also said that two other witnesses stated that Collins said, “I burnt my trucking company down the first time, and I’ll do it again just so I can get the insurance money again. One truck goes, they all go, if you park them close enough together they all go, and I need new trucks. What’s the point in trying to sell junk trucks whenever I can get new trucks?”
The complaint the fire was determined to have originated within the passenger compartment of both of the involved vehicles, the 1991 F450 Super Duty and the 1994 GMC Topkick C7500. The fire subsequently extended to a third vehicle and the residential dwelling they were parked near.