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Arson suspect returned to Muskingum County, pleads not guilty

Stephen+Niles+Jr.+pleads+not+guilty+to+charges+related+to+a+Dec.+9+arson+investigation+in+Wayne+Township.
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Arson suspect returned to Muskingum County, pleads not guilty

Stephen Niles Jr. pleads not guilty to charges related to a Dec. 9 arson investigation in Wayne Township.

Stephen Niles Jr. pleads not guilty to charges related to a Dec. 9 arson investigation in Wayne Township.

Stephen Niles Jr. pleads not guilty to charges related to a Dec. 9 arson investigation in Wayne Township.

Stephen Niles Jr. pleads not guilty to charges related to a Dec. 9 arson investigation in Wayne Township.

By Christine Holmes, News Director

The man at the center of a December arson investigation has returned to Ohio after spending some time in Maine’s criminal justice system for his arrest on a warrant out of Muskingum County.

Stephen Niles Jr., 35 of Chandlersville, made his first appearance in common pleas court Wednesday morning where he pleaded not guilty to the following charges:

  • Aggravated arson, a first-degree felony
  • Aggravated arson, a second-degree felony
  • Tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony
  • Cruelty to animals, a fifth-degree felony

Niles is accused of setting fire to a house on Candlestick Drive in Wayne Township the morning of Dec. 9, 2018.

The Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, along with fire marshals, launched a search for Niles following the fire investigation.

Niles turned himself in to authorities that evening.

Since Niles was still just a person of interest at the time, he was released.

Upon his indictment, a warrant was issued for Niles’ arrest, which was executed in Maine where Niles had fled upon his release.

After a court hearing, Niles was released to the custody of Muskingum County where he is held in jail on $100,000 bond.

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