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Alleged arson fire destroys office of lawyer recently elected to KY state Senate

Lexington Herald-Leader logo Lexington Herald-Leader 11/30/2020 Bill Estep, Lexington Herald-Leader

Police have charged a man with deliberately setting a fire that destroyed the law office of Kentucky Sen.-elect Johnnie L. Turner on Saturday.

There were apartments above Turner’s law office in the building in downtown Harlan, so the fire left six people without homes, according to Leslie Bledsoe, head of an organization called With Love From Harlan.

The charity was working Monday to find homes for the people — a single mother with one child and four other women — and to raise money to help them, Bledsoe said.

“Many of them left the building only with the clothes on their backs, and were thankful just to get out alive,” Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said in a Facebook post.

Harlan police arrested Adam Mills, 22, on charges of first-degree arson, first degree wanton endangerment and fleeing from police.

Lt. Mitchell Alford said in an arrest citation that Mills, a tenant of Turner’s, went to a gas station near the building, filled two water bottles with gas, spread the gas throughout his apartment and then set a blanket on fire.

The citation said Mills went to get the gas “after a disagreement” with Turner.

Mills was being held at the Harlan County Detention Center Monday. His bond was set at $25,000 cash.

Turner was not available Monday morning, but told Hazard television station WYMT earlier that a tenant in the building called him and said two young men were fighting and one had threatened to burn down the building.

Police helped tenants out of the building, the station reported.

Firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to other buildings, but Turner’s building was a “total loss,” Mosley said.

Mills has a lengthy arrest record that includes charges of burglary, theft and public drug intoxication.

In one 2018 case, police said Mills approached an officer in the courthouse and said he wanted someone arrested because he believed the person had put snakes, rats and spiders into Mills’ body.

The officer said he suspected Mills was hallucinating as a result of methamphetamine use.

Turner, a Republican, defeated incumbent state Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, a Democrat from Floyd County, in the November general election.

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©2020 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

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