A Middlesboro man and a Tennessee man were indicted by a Fayette County grand jury this week on charges related to the intentional burning of a Lexington house to collect insurance.
Louie Taylor Hardin, 40, of Middlesboro was indicted on one count of second-degree arson, a felony punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. He is also identified as Louis Hardin in other court records.
Mark Calvin King, 46, of Harrogate, Tenn., was indicted on one count of conspiracy to second-degree arson, a felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison. A telephone listing for King was out of service and a listing for Hardin could not be found.
The indictment says King owned a rental house in the 800 block of Mason Headley Road in Lexington, and that he “unlawfully agreed” in January 2015 to have Hardin start a fire there to collect or facilitate the collection of insurance.
According to a warrant, the Lexington Fire Department responded to a fire at the house at 11:57 p.m. Jan. 30, 2015. The house with three bedrooms and two baths had been vacant since November 2014 and was listed “for sale or trade” or “for rent” at the time of the fire.
Investigators determined the fire had been set. Lab reports confirmed that gasoline was present in two samples of debris collected from the house.
Shortly before the fire, witnesses who live near the house reported that a white four-door car with a maroon quarter panel had circled the block multiple times and, on the last pass, stopped in front of the house. A man got out and walked toward the house.
Twenty to 45 minutes later, the same witnesses came outside and saw that the house was on fire.
An informant told investigators that King had told him about the Mason Headley fire. The informant said he had been hired by King to maintain and mow the property after King had received fines from the city about its upkeep. Furthermore, the informant said King’s son had told the informant that Hardin had set the fire.
The informant acknowledged that he had been convicted of arson in Jessamine County, and that King questioned him about how he got caught setting that fire.
King even commented “that he had researched arson fires and that it was one of the hardest crimes to prove,” the complaint warrant said.
The informant and King had a falling out in November 2015, 10 months after the fire, that resulted in King firing the informant. After some threatening text messages between the two, the informant said he texted King stating “I know about the arson, don’t forget I know everything about Mason Headley.”
Soon afterward, the two saw each other at a Nicholasville Shell station, where, according to the informant, King pulled a gun on him in the parking lot and said, “I will kill you if you tell.”
Last month, Hardin was interviewed and gave further corroborating details about the planning and burning of King’s Mason Headley property.
“During this interview, it was corroborated that Hardin was hired by King to burn the house down and was offered $10,000 to do it,” the complaint warrant said.
Hardin and King, who are free on bond, are scheduled to be arraigned April 20 in Fayette Circuit Court.