A Big Clifty woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of arson in the first degree, two counts of attempted arson, and one count of terroristic threatening in the first degree.
24-year-old Janice Marie Coolidge was arrested on October 31 of last year on suspicion of arson following four separate fires at the JC Penney store in Elizabethtown’s Towne Mall between July and October of 2011, and pleaded guilty in a Hardin County courtroom this year, with her sentence being handed down on Tuesday, October 23 by Judge Ken Howard.
Coolidge, who was an employee at the store at the time the fires were set, has been held at the Hardin County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond since her arrest.
Two of the four fires caused damage to the store. On one occasion, the flames briefly shut down the store, while another fire shut the JC Penney branch down for weeks while repairs were made.
According to a November, 2011 article in Hardin County’s The News-Enterprise, a “remorseful” Coolidge admitted in a police interview to setting each of the fires. During the same interview, she also told Elizabethtown Police Department Detective Pete Chytla that she “likes lighting fires.”
Coolidge additionally admitted to having made bomb threats to the mall as well as to Elizabethtown Technical and Community College, where she was a student, the article said, adding that one of the threats was made in an attempt to get out of taking a test, and another because she had not wanted to be called into work early.
Coolidge was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years to be served on each of the two counts of arson, 10 years on each count of the two counts of attempted arson, and one year for the count of terroristic threatening.
Time served is to run concurrently for a total of 20 years.