Two Batesville men were arrested Monday after authorities say they set fire to a service truck and damaged a variety of other equipment at an Independence County farm.
In his preliminary incident report, Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens said he received a call Monday from a Desha farmer who had found some of his farm equipment damaged and one service truck missing.
Upon the sheriff’s arrival at the farm in the Gainer Ferry Bottoms, the farmer told Stephens the farm’s service truck, a 2001 Dodge Ram 3500 flatbed, had been stolen, and someone had also tried to move two of the farm’s tractor-trailer trucks, causing damage.
The first tractor-trailer truck, a 1997 International Harvester, sustained broken windows, a broken windshield, a battery box that had been taken apart, and a drive shaft that had been twisted, the sheriff noted. The other, a 1989 International Harvester, had attempted to be moved, but the report noted the power divider had been torn out of the truck, causing damage to the rear end and rendering the vehicle inoperable.
The farm’s John Deere tractor also received damage along with another service truck that had been parked in a hay barn. The sheriff said the tractor’s windows had been broken and tools from inside had been stolen while the truck, a GMC 3500 flatbed, had its windows broken out, as well.
The Dodge Ram 3500 service truck was later found stuck in a nearby field, completely destroyed by fire, the report said.
Stephens said in his report that while investigating the GMC truck in the hay barn, he found evidence on the ground that ultimately led investigators to two suspects, identified as Eric Martin Waterman (pictured above, left), 21, of Batesville, and William Todd Burfield (right), 21, of Batesville.
After authorities arrived at Waterman’s residence, some of the tools from the tractor were located and Waterman’s truck was towed from the scene, the report said.
The incident report said Waterman and Burfield were separately interviewed at the sheriff’s office. Both suspects told authorities the two had been drinking alcohol and riding around Sunday night when they came across the farm.
In his interview, Waterman said Burfield wanted to drive the 1989 tractor-trailer truck, but tore it up when he tried to move it. Burfield told authorities it was Waterman who wanted to drive the vehicle.
After finding the 2001 Dodge service trick, the two said they drove it around in the fields, before getting it stuck. Fearful of fingerprints, the two told deputies the truck was soaked in diesel fuel and was set on fire, the report said.
Both suspects were transported to the county jail pending formal charges being filed.
Images via Independence County Sheriff’s Department
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