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Woman charged with arson in Saturday fire

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A woman has been charged with arson after allegedly setting an auto repair shop on fire, while her husband was asleep inside of it.

Vienna Johnson, 37, of Roswell, is accused of using a molotov cocktail to set fire to the office of a 600 block of East Second Street auto repair shop Saturday at about 3:30 a.m., according to documents filed Monday in Chaves County Magistrate Court. She is charged with one count of arson over $2,500 but not more than $25,000.

Johnson’s husband, who is an employee of the shop and was living there at the time, was able to escape the burning building without serious injury.

Court documents suggest while the frame of the building remained intact, the western portion of the office and its contents sustained heavy damage.

A man who lives in a trailer on the property of the business later told investigators he thought he heard both Johnson and her husband loudly arguing in the parking lot of the auto repair shop.

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The man told investigators Johnson later knocked on his door and told him he better go help her husband because the repair shop’s office was on fire, according to court documents.

The man said he then ran to the back door of the office and yelled but Johnson’s husband did not come out. He then went around to the front door, which he was able to open and let Johnson’s husband out.

Court documents state the man later told investigators that when he went to grab a garden hose to put out the fire, he discovered it had been disconnected from the valve and that both the hose and valve were damaged.

Johnson, according to court documents, allegedly got into her car and drove off soon after the man rushed over to the building.

The owner of the repair shop later told investigators Johnson had, on previous occasions, come to the property and argued with her husband. He alleged she would also sometimes cut garden hoses, break windshields and pour oil onto the hoods of vehicles on the lot.

According to court documents, such an incident had occurred the day before, which was the last time he had replaced the hose.

The shop owner said that day Johnson had cut the hose, poured oil on the hood of her husband’s vehicle, smashed his windshield and proceeded to chase after him with a crowbar.

Johnson’s husband said that the night of the fire, his wife had come to argue with him.

Police later detained Johnson and transported her to the Roswell Police Department. According to court documents, she refused to talk to police.

The office of the District Attorney for New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District has filed a motion for the pretrial detention of Johnson. A hearing has been scheduled for Friday at the Chaves County Courthouse, where a district judge will decide whether to grant or deny the motion.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

 

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