Suspected serial arsonist faces additional charges

Nicholas Powell (Source: Office of Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office)
Nicholas Powell (Source: Office of Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office)

NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - The teenager suspected in a rash of arsons that left several houses ablaze confessed to several crimes Thursday and more charges are expected Friday.

Nicholas Powell, 19, of New Roads now faces four counts of simple arson and one count of aggravated arson.

"I would never expect anything like this in New Roads," said Huey Thomas, a New Roads resident.

There were seven fires in a 32-hour period in New Roads and the man investigators said is responsible for at least six of those, is behind bars.

"This person has a desire to set fires, which is rare," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning.

Browning said Powell confessed to setting six fires. He added the suspect spent Thursday walking through some of those homes and telling investigators exactly how he set them ablaze.

The aggravated arson charge is for a home on Clay Street that was set on fire Wednesday at 5:09 a.m. The flames spread to the home next door where a family with children was asleep.

Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres said the investigation, however, is far from over.

"We do have reason to believe that there are some additional arsons he was involved in," Torres explained.

Officials said on top of the six fires Powell is already charged in, investigators are looking into another dozen fires in New Roads that Powell may be connected to, some dating back to 2010.

"We had a very big concern at 7:00 Wednesday morning and that was what is going to look like tonight in New Roads. There were a lot of people who woke up in fear. There were a lot of people who were worried. Who is doing this? Could I be next?" said Browning.

They're all questions Thomas started asking himself after the string of fires.

"If they didn't catch him, he'll do it again. (He) must have been having fun with it. I can't figure out why he did it," said Thomas.

There was an attempt to question the accused arsonist's mom, but she did not want to talk to the media.

Meanwhile, many in New Roads are breathing a sigh of relief but remain shocked and confused, especially after looking at what's left behind, nothing but a foundation.

"I have never seen anything like this," said Thomas.

Investigators are looking to get a warrant Friday morning to charge Powell with seven more simple arsons, two dating back to 2010 and five in 2013. Four of those five were set within this week.

As of now, officials do not have any other suspects, but this is an ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, the sheriff said he is talking with the district attorney to try to get a mental evaluation on Powell.

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