U.S. Marshals arrest man accused of intentionally setting fires at Vandalia gym

Christopher Herbst

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Christopher Herbst

U.S. Marshals arrested a Moraine man accused of setting multiple fires in March at M-Power Gym in Vandalia.

The U.S. Marshals Southern Ohio Fugitive Strike Team took 28-year-old Christopher Herbst into custody early Tuesday, according to the City of Vandalia Fire Division. He is in the Montgomery County Jail, according to booking records.

Herbst is facing two counts of aggravated arson and breaking and entering, according to Vandalia Municipal Court records.

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During an investigation, a fire marshal determined an unknown person, later identified as Herbst, arrived between 3 and 6:10 a.m. March 20 and broke the window at the back of the building on North Dixie Drive, according to court documents.

“Upon breaking the window, the subject then ignited a Patron bottle with rags and ignitable liquid placed within the bottle and put it through the window onto combustible items inside,” an affidavit read.

Video surveillance footage showed the suspect leave and return in a vehicle multiple times.

At one point, the suspect attempted to reignite the bottle and throw it further, according to court records. He then set multiple fires near the exit and dumpster.

After issuing a press release asking for the public’s help, multiple people contacted investigators identifying the suspect as Herbst, according to court documents. Investigators also learned a vehicle registered to Herbst matched the suspect vehicle’s description.

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When detectives found Herbst, he refused to answer any questions, the affidavit read. Investigators seized a vehicle that was similar to the suspect vehicle but was freshly painted.

During a search of the vehicle, investigators found three wheel covers in the trunk that matched the ones shown on the surveillance video, according to court documents.

Cellphone records from AT&T Mobility reportedly placed Herbst’s phone in the area of the gym during the time of the fires. GPS activity from the phone records also matched the suspect’s movements captured on surveillance video, according to court records.

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