Humphreys County volunteer firefighter arrested for arson in recent suspicious fires

leslie winchester humphreys county arsonist
Posted at 8:52 AM, Jul 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-09 18:43:40-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF)  — A Humphreys County volunteer firefighter is in custody this morning following an arrest for arson.

The Humphreys County Sheriff confirmed to NewsChannel 5 that 19-year-old Leslie Roy Winchester is accused of setting a string of recent suspicious fires around the county. The fires began on June 13.

Leslie Winchester

Fires were reported at a church, vacant home, the old fire hall and a lodge in Waverly. The most recent fire happened Friday at the old Jennifer's Furniture Store, just outside of the Waverly city limits.

Last November, we met the owner of the building Gladys Rochelle. At the time, she had just barely gotten her head above water from the August 2021 flood.

"This is what we scraped with. We scraped every square foot with this," Rochelle told us in 2021.

"It was time for it to end before we really got somebody hurt in all this," said Sheriff Davis.

Winchester ultimately confessed to setting all six fires during an interview with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. Sheriff Davis said Winchester began to emerge as a suspect after the department received inside information from within the Humphreys County Volunteer Fire Department and from the larger community.

"It’s like we got a little piece of the puzzle from every fire," said Davis.

Investigators believe Winchester even fought a few of the fires he started, which is the most painful part for Davis.

"It’s hard on these guys. These guys bust their butts day in and day out and go out and they’re not paid. They’re the ones volunteering to try to help take care of our community and it’s very hurting, it’s very frustrating to them," he said.

TBI reports that Winchester has been charged with three counts of aggravated arson, three counts of arson, six counts of criminal trespassing, and six counts of vandalism over $10,000. He is being held on a $1.7 million bond.

The state issued a $5,000 reward last week for information leading to the arrest.