UPDATE: Firefighter faces more arson charges

NEW ALBANY – The 22-year-old volunteer firefighter charged with arson and murder in the death of an 88-year-old woman in eastern Union County may have sparked numerous other fires.

William Cody Lambert was charged Saturday with murder and two counts of arson after two early morning house fires were reported in the Alpine community. One of those fires killed Myrtle Mae Owen in her home.

At Lambert’s initial court appearance today in Union County, bond was set at $100,000 for each of the arson charges. Bond was denied for the murder charge, said Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite.

“He confessed to our two fires,” Jimmy Edwards, the chief deputy sheriff in Union County, said Tuesday.

Attorney Steve Livingston had no comment Tuesday after being appointed to represent Lambert.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said five felony counts were added Tuesday against William Cody Lambert accusing him of setting fires since January in three homes, a Catholic church and a barn.
Johnson said one of the Lee County fires occurred in June across the street from Lambert’s home in the Guntown community. He said after Lambert was arrested in Union County, “it kind of started making sense” to question the firefighter about the Lee County fires.

St. Thomas Catholic Church in Guntown and the barn in Shannon were not occupied when the fires occurred, but people were home during all three of house fires in Lee County, the sheriff said.

“One had an entire family (that) almost didn’t get out,” Johnson said.

Edwards, the Union County chief deputy, said Lambert is a volunteer with three fire departments in Lee County and was trying to start volunteering at a fourth. Lambert was wearing a firefighter shirt when he was arrested Saturday, Edwards said.

Read more in Wednesday’s NEMS Daily Journal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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