Friends and family help Martin Nelson rebuild a barn that burnt down Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 near Wakarusa. Staff file photo by Michael Caterina
Friends and family help Martin Nelson rebuild a barn that burnt down Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 near Wakarusa. Staff file photo by Michael Caterina
ELKHART — A Nappanee man believed to be involved in a string of suspicious barn fires in Elkhart County over the past year, was charged with eight counts of arson Wednesday.

Detectives with the Elkhart County Sheriff's office are accusing Joseph Hershberger, 41, with starting eight fires at local barns, saying cell phone data and video footage put him at the scene of the fires shortly before they occurred.

Farmers and police first were first alerted to the possibility of arson in the spring after witnessing a series of fires at barns in the northern part of Kosciusko County and the southern part of Elkhart County.

In April, a nearly 100-year-old barn was destroyed near Milford in Kosciusko County. In May, officials investigated two fires within a couple of miles of each other just northwest of Wakarusa. Two barn fires in one night a few miles apart in June also drew the attention of Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes, who said at the time his department was investigating the fires as potential arsons.

More:Arson suspected in a string of barn fires in Elkhart and Kosciusko counties

“In my opinion, it’s very suspicious because this isn’t normal,” Dukes told The Tribune in September. “I’ve done this law enforcement thing now for 23 years and I’ve never seen this many fires in such a close time frame. It is very suspicious.”

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