UPDATE 7/23/12 @ 6:15 p.m.
NICHOLAS COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There has been a breakthrough in the investigation into a string of arsons in Nicholas County.
A 21-year-old man is behind bars after sheriff’s deputies said he set fire to more than a dozen buildings. Austin Cox is facing dozens of felony charges, including first and second-degree arson, destruction of property and conspiracy.
"During some other investigations, we have uncovered some new leads in our arson investigation,” Nicholas County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Paul O’Dell said. “Countless man hours have been put into this investigation in the past few weeks."
Those countless man hours led police to Cox, but deputies aren’t saying exactly how.
According to his criminal complaint, some of the information was provided by Coty Stover who said Cox bragged to him about setting some of the fires. Deputies believe Cox set fires in Mount Nebo, Richwood and Summersville, from January to July.
One of the businesses burned was Maloney’s Pub.
"I think everybody will sleep a little bit better at night, a little more peace of mind after these guys are behind bars," owner Aaron Maloney said.
It took Maloney several months to rebuild his bar and get it up and running. He said he thinks Cox was even in his bar the night before the fire. But instead of holding a grudge, Maloney’s just happy he’s behind bars.
"I would forgive them,” Maloney said. “I'm just glad no one was injured or killed in all of this. Hopefully they will never do anything like this ever again. I know one of them won't be because they'll be behind bars for a long time."
"It's definitely relieving, not only to us, but to our communities that we finally might have an end to this case in sight," O’Dell said.
Cox is being held in the Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $2.7 million bond. WSAZ.com put in a request to speak with him, but he declined.
The Nicholas County Sheriff’s Department wouldn’t comment on whether or not any other arrests will be made, but said these cases remain under investigation.
According to the Nicholas County Sheriff's Department, Austin L. Cox, 21, of Craigsville, was arrested on felony arson charges Sunday. The Nicholas County Sheriff's Department, the West Virginia State Police, and the Central Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force assisted in the arrest.
Cox is accused of setting fire to several structures in Nicholas County from January through July.
Cox is being held in the Central Regional Jail in lieu of $2.7 million bail.
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