GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Police had no difficulty locating an arson suspect when the culprit himself flagged down a patrol car late last week.
Investigators said 60-year-old Milford Bass told the officer he set a Murray Street house on fire. In addition to charges of arson, Bass faces one count of attempted murder.
“He should,” arson victim Aleasha Hocutt said. “There could have been people in the house. He didn’t know that when he started the house on fire.”
The house has been in Hocutt’s family for 40 years. She said Bass was an acquaintance of her stepfather, who permitted Bass to sometimes stay in a barn at the back of the property. Hocutt used the barn as a hairstyling shop, and friends often gathered there to socialize.
Hocutt said Bass got in an argument Friday night with some of her roommates. She said Bass told them he was going to burn the place down. They thought he was joking until he returned with a can of gasoline.
“His whole intention was to come to burn this house. He left and got the gas. Came back to burn it,” she said.
A neighbor said he heard Bass shout that he wasn’t messing around and saw him wave a broom that was on fire.
“He threw gas on the barn and onto the barn door and onto the house. He lit a match and it went up in flames,” Hocutt said.
“I was right around the corner. My friend came in the back door and told me that my barn was on fire. I went out into the backyard and I wasn’t for sure if it was my yard because looking off from his yard, It looked far away because the fire was so big.”
Hocutt rushed home and saw two separate fires. Since the flames burning the house were separate from the ones burning the barn, Hocutt said she knew someone must have intentionally started the fires.
“I never thought it would have been Mr. Bass,” she said. “He’s a quite rowdy individual, but I guess knowing him so long, his character, so to speak, you don’t really feel threatened by it.”
One of Hocutt’s friends suffered severe burns and had to be rushed to the UNC Hospital burn center in Chapel Hill. No one else was hurt by the fire.
The residents received some immediate assistance from Red Cross. They are relying on other friends and family for help getting back on their feet, and hopeful to receive some community support.
“We’re just really trying to take it all in. Everything is gone. We’ve just got to start from scratch,” Hocutt said.
“I’m just living day by day, trying to figure out what to do next. I only own the clothes I had on my back that night. I have nothing else.”
She is staying positive through her faith and her friends, and praised the efforts of the Goldsboro Fire Department whom she said arrived quickly and worked very hard to keep to a minimum the damage to the brick house.