Jennings Co. arson suspects arrested after short chase

NORTH VERNON, Ind. – Deputies from the Jennings County Sheriff's Office responded to a residential fire in Country Squire Lakes on Wednesday around 10:20 a.m. Law enforcement was advised that a silver Jeep was leaving the scene and it could be related to the blaze. Deputies spotted the vehicle and tried to stop it, but said it took off at a high rate of speed. After a short pursuit, the vehicle ran off the roadway, crashed, and the occupants fled on foot. The Jennings County Sheriff’s office was able to take a female passenger, Delaney Smith, 18, of North Vernon, into custody. The North Vernon Police Department, which had also responded to the area, located and arrested the male driver, Mikell Hardesty, 19, of North Vernon. A third suspect, believed to be a juvenile, was not apprehended. The small fire, under a mobile home, had extinguished itself after it burned into water lines under the structure. Neighbors who witnessed the fire were able to make contact with a mother and small child, who then evacuated the residence. Evidence was allegedly found during the investigation to charge the suspects. Hardesty was booked for arson, resisting law enforcement, and possession of methamphetamine. Smith was jailed for arson, resisting law enforcement, and obstruction of justice.

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