COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Maury County man being called a serial arsonist is behind bars and charged with setting two house fires Monday morning.
From the Maury County Jail, 64-year-old Marshall Cothron confessed to the crimes. He told News 2 he set both fires because his “spirits” told him to do it.
Cordan: “First of all, did you do it?”
Cothron: “I did do it.”
Cordan: “So, you did do it.”
Cothron: “I did and the spirits inside me did it too.”
According to fire marshals with Columbia Fire & Rescue who worked with TBI, Mt. Pleasant police, Mt. Pleasant Fire and Columbia police, the 64-year-old set a house fire at 1:09 a.m. in the 6500 block of Polk Lane.
According to Assistant Fire Marshal Sarah Glover, the home in Mt. Pleasant was vacant and is a total loss.
While investigating this fire, another call came in at 1:50 a.m. — this time in the 1900 block of Woodmont Drive in Columbia.
Glover confirmed both homes were owned by the same person and nobody was home at the Columbia home at the time.
Glover said both homes were arsons, and at this time, it doesn’t appear that an accelerant was used.
Cothron has confessed to both fires and has a relationship with the homeowners.
As for what the motive for the fire is, Glover would only say it is still under investigation.
In jail, Cothron said the homeowner is his friend.
Cordan: “Do you know the man who owns the houses?”
Cothron: “I do.”
Cordan: “Do you not like him.”
Cothron: “I like him. He is my friend, always has been my friend.”
Cordan: “So, you burned your friend’s houses?”
Cothron: “I think my spirits, and the spirits in me burned them.”
Cordan: “Do you know why?”
Cothron: “I don’t know. I wish I did know.”
Throughout this interview, Cothron told News 2 how he almost died in the old Maury County Jail fire in 1977 that killed 42 people.
“I died in the Maury County jail. They bagged me and someone said the bag was moving,” Cothron said. “Somehow when they brought me back, the spirits remained with me. Some are good. Some are bad. I’ve been living like this since I died in the jail fire.”
Cordan: “But you definitely set that fire.”
Cothron: “Someone did, I was there, I remember that. Yeah, I do.”
Cordan: “Then you drove to Columbia and set that fire too.”
Cothron: Yeah, I was a part of it.”
Cordan: “What would you say to that family?”
Cothron: “It was not me. it was the spirits I would say.”
Cordan: “They were your spirits with you, setting that fire?”
Cothron: “Yeah, everyone thinks I am crazy. That ain’t me.”
Cordan: “Well, that sounds nutty.”
Cothron: “It is nutty, but if someone else had these spirits doing these wrong things, I think they would know where I am coming from.”
Cothron is in jail under a $260,000 bond, facing charges for arson, aggravated arson, vandalism, criminal trespassing and aggravated burglary.
Cothron has a lengthy criminal history and jail records confirm that in June of 1977 he was in the old Maury County Jail charged with possession and sale of a controlled substance. Jail officials tell News 2 he was 20 years old at that time.