2 charged with arson after police find stolen truck engulfed in flames on Navajo Drive

A Lincoln truck is burned following a fire in the desert near Navajo Drive, Washington County, Utah, May 13, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Adam Heyder, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two men are facing felony arson and theft charges after allegedly stealing a truck and setting it on fire in the desert near St. George Monday.

A Lincoln truck is burned following a fire in the desert near Navajo Drive, Washington County, Utah, May 13, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Adam Heyder, St. George News

Jarrett Huddleston, 25, of St. George, was charged with two second-degree felonies, including one count of arson and one count of theft. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of theft. Timothy Maas, 31, of St. George, was also charged with two second-degree felonies, including one count of arson and one count of theft.

Both defendants made an initial appearance in 5th District Court before Judge John J. Walton Friday and remain in custody on $20,000 bail each.

The arrests stem from an incident Monday wherein authorities received reports of a vehicle fire on the unpaved portion of Navajo Drive at around 6:45 a.m. Responders arrived to find a 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pickup truck completely burned.

Police determined the truck belonged to a man living in St. George who was unaware that the vehicle was missing, leading officers to believe it had been stolen from the driveway of the residence at some point the night before.

Jarrett Huddleston, 25, of St. George, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, May 16, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Investigators processed the scene for evidence in order to determine whether the truck was set on fire intentionally.

Read more: Authorities find stolen vehicle burning in the desert near St. George

Officers conducted a canvas on Navajo Drive where they located a residence with a camera facing the street. The footage showed a vehicle matching the description of the stolen truck traveling west on Navajo Drive at 5:46 a.m., with a white pickup truck following close behind, according to the probable cause statements filed in support of the defendants’ charges.

About 23 minutes later, the white pickup was allegedly observed heading east on the same road at a high rate of speed — 10 minutes before fire was reported — leading officers to believe the truck’s occupants were somehow involved in the vehicle theft.

Three days after the incident was reported, police received anonymous information indicating Huddleston and Maas were possibly involved. Both men were already in jail on unrelated charges stemming from an arrest earlier that day.

At the time of the unrelated incident, the defendants were following each other in separate trucks on northbound Interstate 15 and were stopped after an officer observed the two vehicles crossing over the border into Utah from Arizona. During the stop, police determined that Huddleston’s truck had stolen plates, according to the statement. A K-9 unit unit dispatched to the scene also allegedly indicated the presence of drugs in both vehicles.

During a search of the vehicles, officers allegedly found PCP in Huddleston’s truck and methamphetamine in Maas’s pickup. The men were arrested and transported to jail, and both pickup trucks were impounded.

Investigators on the arson case went to the tow yard where Huddleston’s truck was being stored and noted that the body, color and overall appearance matched the suspect vehicle shown in the footage on Navajo Drive. Officers also found property allegedly stolen from the Lincoln prior to it being set on fire.

Timothy Maas, 31, of St. George, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, May 16, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Additionally, police stated that shoe impressions taken at the scene were consistent with the tread pattern shown in photographs of Huddleston’s shoes taken at the jail.

During a police interview conducted at the jail, Huddleston reportedly confirmed the white pickup was his but denied driving the truck at the time of the incident and eventually terminated the interview.

In a separate interview at the jail, police state that Maas initially denied being with Huddleston on the night in question. However, after investigators found the tread pattern on Maas’s shoes to match impressions taken at the scene, police write that Maas “admitted he had been involved in the theft.”

Huddleston’s criminal history dates back to 2015 when he was charged with one third-degree felony count of rioting and a misdemeanor assault charge, to which he pleaded guilty after the felony was dismissed. From there, he was convicted in four more cases involving misdemeanor drug and theft-related crimes.

Maas’s criminal history spans more than a decade and includes 14 cases dating back to 2009 that culminate in more than two dozen convictions for burglary, theft, drug possession and other related crimes.

Huddleston is scheduled to appear in 5th District court Tuesday, while Maas’s next appearance is set for Thursday. In Utah, a second-degree felony conviction can result in a prison term of 1-15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

St. George News reporter Mikayla Shoup contributed to this report.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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