JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Licking, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for setting a series of arson fires at truck stops across six states.
Steven Oakley Price, 42, of Licking, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey to eight years in federal prison without parole.
On Dec. 1, 2011, Price pleaded guilty to eight counts of arson. Price, an over-the-road truck driver, admitted that he set arson fires that burned a number of tractor-trailer rigs in Missouri, Georgia, Indiana, West Virginia, Iowa and Illinois between August 2009 and June 2010.
Price committed arson by inserting fuel-soaked clothing, rags or fuel filters in or around the wheel wells of tractor-trailer trucks, most of which were parked and occupied at the time the fires were started. Several fires occurred at a truck stop in Kingdom City, Mo., and Price was identified as a suspect when he was observed at the scene of the fires. Price's employer, Tennant Truck Lines of Orion, Illinois, utilized GPS technology to track its drivers. With Tennant’s assistance, law enforcement investigators began to track Price’s travel.
On Aug. 26, 2009, a fire was intentionally set under a commercial tractor-trailer rig in Richmond Hill, Ga. Price’s tractor-trailer rig was parked immediately adjacent to the burned truck. During April 2010, five arson fires were set under commercial tractor-trailer rigs in Mississippi, West Virginia, Iowa and in Kingdom City, Mo.; in each case, GPS data placed Price at or near the scene of the fire. During May 2010, nine arson fires were set under commercial tractor-trailer rigs in Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana; in each case, GPS data placed Price at or near the scene of the fire. Four of the May 2010 arsons were in Kingdom City and one was in Oak Grove, Mo.
On June 23, 2010, a truck parked at a truck stop in Valley Grove, W.Va., was damaged by a fire that was intentionally set in the same manner as the other arson fires. Investigators had been conducting surveillance of Price using GPS data, and he was arrested in his truck parked a short distance away.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, the Texas County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Callaway County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.