Arrest made in Grand Junction arsons |

Arrest made in Grand Junction arsons

Paul Shockley
Grand Junction correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” A 48-year-old transient jailed last week is accused of starting five fires at a Grand Avenue residence since January and is a suspect in more downtown blazes, according to allegations in an arrest warrant affidavit.

Phillip J. Marshall is being held at the Mesa County jail on four counts of first-degree arson and one count of second-degree arson in connection with five fires at 1229 Grand Ave, according to the warrant.

“Those are the only fires we have him arrested for,” Deputy Grand Junction Police Chief Harry Long said Monday.

Some 20 arsons ” at night or in the pre-dawn hours ” have targeted mostly detached garages, cars and other property in the downtown area since Jan. 8.

“This is still under investigation,” Long said.

Authorities believe Marshall is the same man seen on a video surveillance tape wearing a backpack and using newspaper to start a fire March 20 at 1229 Grand Ave.

The video was released to local media last Wednesday.

The fires at 1229 Grand Ave., occurred on Jan. 8, Feb. 4, Feb. 26, March 20 and March 23.

According to the affidavit, two employees with Grand Valley Catholic Outreach identified the man seen on video surveillance as being Marshall.

The employees said Marshall uses daily services at Catholic Outreach’s Soup Kitchen and the Day Center.

The employees identified the man captured on video “as having the same mannerisms, walking movement and clothing,” as Marshall, according to the warrant.

Marshall wasn’t contacted by investigators until May 23. At that time, he allegedly told an investigator he’d heard a rumor involving another employee at Catholic Outreach.

The employee lives at 1229 Grand Ave.

“Marshall did state in the course of the interview that he believed that arsons were the ‘devil’s work’ and he believed in ‘eye for an eye’ as punishment,” the affidavit said.

After the interview, six new arsons in the downtown area occurred between May 25 and last Wednesday.

“On May 28, detectives … followed Marshall from 7:30 a.m. to approximately 9:30 p.m. … at approximately 1:30 p.m. Marshal walked past (arson) victim car at 1040 Hill Avenue stopping briefly to look at the damage,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit said detectives learned last Wednesday Marshall was staying at the Community Homeless Shelter and at a North Third Street address.

Detectives tried to contact Marshall again last Friday at 729 N. Third St. A resident volunteered information before the detectives could explain why they were there, the affidavit said.

“You’re here because of the fires, you want to talk to Phil,” the affidavit said.

The statement is attributed to Kevin Bailey, 46, a resident at 729 N. Third St.

Bailey said “Phil’s on the video” broadcast by local media.

The video had been released to local press two days earlier.

“Bailey also stated that when Phil drinks alcohol he can do ‘stupid things,” the affidavit said.

Two others at the residence identified Marshall as the man in the video, including the homeowner, Roger Jensen, 52.

Marshall had lived in Jensen’s backyard underneath a camper shell, the affidavit said.

Marshall is being held at the jail on $25,000 cash-only bond.