Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Long Beach Township Police Chief today announce the arrest yesterday (2/20) of Colin D. Kerlin, 28, of Ship Bottom for the intentional setting of a fire at 8 West Scott Drive in Long Beach Township. Kerlin is charged with 2nd degree Aggravated Arson and 3rd degree Burglary. He is lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.
The arrest stems from the investigation begun on Sunday (1/21) at 6:53 pm, when the Long Beach Township Police and surrounding Fire Departments were dispatched to 8 West Scott Drive in the Holgate section of Long Beach Township for a report of a structure fire. Upon the arrival of emergency personnel, heavy smoke and fire was observed coming from the Southeast side of the structure. After the fire was extinguished, it was determined that the house was unoccupied for the winter. Witnesses reported seeing a white male running from the area shortly after the fire was reported. The scene was secured by the Long Beach Township Police Department and notification was made to Deputy Fire Marshall Brian Mount and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office Arson Unit.
The subsequent investigation by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutors Office Arson Unit, Long Beach Township Police Department, Ocean County Sherriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office found evidence of forced entry to a window on the West side of the home. The origin of the fire was on top of a mattress in the master bedroom located in the Southeast corner of the residence. The cause of the fire was incendiary due to an open flame to available combustibles, specifically the mattress. As investigators were determining the cause of the fire, information was also being developed identifying Kerlin as the alleged person responsible.
On February 20th 2018 at approximately 3:30 pm, the completed investigation found that Kerlin allegedly gained access to the home by breaking a second story window. He then allegedly removed a mattress from another room, placed it on top of the master bedroom bed and ignited the mattress using a butane lighter.
The media and public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.