18-year-old arson suspect burned down 'wrong house,' investigators say

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An 18-year-old is behind bars for trying to burn down a house in Shelby, but investigators say the victims who lost their home were not his intended target.

Police tell FOX 46 Zaden Cox thought the house belonged to someone else.

Fire officials said Cox dumped a gallon of gasoline on the cars and lit a match to start the fire. Now, there’s an estimated $50,000 in damage, according to Shelby Fire Officials.

“Utter stupidity,” said Tony Hamrick who lives in Shelby. “I mean he should go to prison for a very long time.”

Investigators said two people were inside the home on Forest Hill Drive and got up when the house filled with smoke Friday morning. One of them was hurt in the fire but police said they are lucky to be alive.

“There was an intended target and this was not it,” said Sgt. Jason Benfield. “It’s pretty messed up, so I would say they are very fortunate.”

The cars remain in the driveway completely charred, and the couple’s cat did not survive.

“I am an animal lover and it’s a good thing I’m not a judge,” said Hamrick.

Shelby Police said there was a build up before the flames. Investigators said the suspect left nasty letters at the house and the people who live there left him one back saying he had the wrong house.

“I know that there were several events that led up to this,” said Sgt. Benfield.

Now neighbors are praising Shelby Police for using outside cameras to identify Cox. He is behind bars under a $1 million bond.