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Missouri man sentenced for national forest arsons, assault of Forest Service employee

CAPE GIRARDEAU – U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. on Wednesday sentenced a man who committed arsons in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and assaulted a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer to 12 and one-half years in prison.

Judge Limbaugh also ordered Lucas G. Henson, 37, of Iron County, Missouri, to pay the U.S. Forest Service about $7,200 for the cost of fighting the fires he set.

Henson was out on bond after being charged with stealing and drug offenses when he stole a Ford van on Oct. 22, 2022 near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Henson abandoned the van when it ran out of gas. Later that day, he broke into a camper and stole items from it. The next day, he stole a Dodge pickup truck, then burglarized someone’s home and stole a Ruger LC9 9mm handgun. He stole a crossbow from a workshop near the home.

When the truck’s owner found Henson, Henson pointed the pistol at the truck’s owner and drove away. Law enforcement officers then joined the chase.

Henson crashed the truck in Mark Twain National Forest, then started a fire and burned the handgun and the items that he’d stolen from the camper before fleeing into the forest.

Officers began tracking Henson with dogs. When they got close, he started a fire to prevent being captured. He started a second fire when they approached him again. Later, he pointed the crossbow at a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer, as well as other officers, before fleeing again. Henson was eventually caught near the Black River.

The fires burned a total of 7.61 acres of land. Due to the dry and windy conditions at the time, Henson’s fires kept leaping over fire lines established by fire fighters. Crews eventually had to construct “dozer lines” to contain the fire.

Henson pleaded guilty in March to assaulting a law enforcement officer, arson and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Shelton prosecuted the case.

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