Box Elder, SD
A Box Elder man is in custody and facing the possibility of prison time after authorities say he lit his own home on fire with two people still inside early Thursday morning.
Residents of the Box Elder trailer court woke up to a terrifying scene Thursday.
"When I heard yelling and screaming outside it woke me up. I looked out and I could see the flames from my kitchen window," neighbor Janel Smith said.
Rubble is all that remains of the burned trailer, owned by 29-year old Joseph Hodges.
Authorities arrived on scene shortly after 5 a.m. on Thursday and found the trailer fully engulfed in flames. It didn't take long for them to realize that this was no accident.
"Once we tracked down Mr. Hodges and visited with him and kind of worked out the details is when we discovered that it was an intentional act," Capt. Marty Graves of the Pennington County Sheriff's Department said.
Graves says that the incident started after Hodges returned home to find his live-in girlfriend, 31-year old Corrie Roberts-Stone with 31-year old James Roberts, her ex-husband.
The two were still inside the trailer when it was lit, but escaped without injury.
"We believe, at this time, that the intent was not to harm anyone but was to burn his house," Graves said.
Now, Hodges is facing First Degree Arson and Reckless Burning charges. Both are felonies and could put Hodges behind bars for up to 35 years.
Neighbors are just thankful that the situation didn't turn out even worse.
"Yes, it's very scary. I think I was shaking most of the day because it's like, what would've happened if it would have spread. I mean, all these people that could've got hurt," Smith said.
Hodges is in custody at the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.