CAPE GIRARDEAU -- The Missouri Attorney General's office has dismissed criminal charges of arson and stealing for Billy Arnold of Bell City. The case had been transferred from Stoddard County to Cape Girardeau County.
In a Friday news release, attorney James McClellan of Sikeston commended the Attorney General's office for dismissing his client's case. He stated the state's crime lab revealed no ignitable liquid on the wood samples and that the state's main witness had prior convictions. Arnold's insurance carrier said the home was not destroyed by arson and they were prepared to pay out the claim.
Arnold was camping with his children the day the home caught on fire. He had always maintained his innocence and passed a polygraph examination administered by a former highway patrolman.
"The bitter part to Arnold was his loss of freedom and separation from his family while he was jailed for 118 days, when he was an innocent man," said McClellan.