Mississippi teen admitted to torching parents’ home to spend three years in prison

Published 9:22 pm Monday, October 18, 2021

A Mississippi teen who set fire to his parent’s home on a military base in Maryland will spend more than three years in a federal prison for the crime.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Cornelius Hendrix, age 19, of Starkville, to Maryland to 37 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for arson within special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Fire Chief Trisha L. Wolford of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

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According to his guilty plea, on August 21, 2020 Hendrix poured lighter fluid in areas of his father’s and stepmother’s Fort Meade military home, including outside his parents’ bedroom door, and the front door welcome mat. The presence of an ignitable liquid was also detected at the top of the stairs near his father’s and stepmother’s bedroom.

Hendrix then ignited a fire within the home before jumping off the rear porch and injuring his leg.

As stated in his plea agreement, the fire was extinguished with minimal property damage and no physical injuries. However, Hendrix’s father and stepmother’s lives were placed in jeopardy as a result of Hendrix’s conduct.

After being medically evaluated and cleared, Hendrix was taken to Fort Meade Military Police Department for an interview. Hendrix knowingly and voluntarily acknowledged spreading the lighter fluid and lighting the fire.

Hendrix remains in custody pending transport to face two unrelated counts of attempted murder in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, stemming from an alleged shooting that preceded the arson in August of 2020. That matter is charged by criminal complaint, which is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.