Police locate missing van after fire destroys Johnson County home

(WISH Photo/Chopper 8)

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Officers in Johnson County found the vehicle that was reported missing Wednesday morning, after firefighters battled a house fire.

Police say the vehicle from the fire was discovered in the parking lot of the Franklin Boys and Girls Club.

After investigation, police said the snow on the vehicle suggests it was in the lot before the snow started Tuesday. This makes investigators think the theft of the vehicle happened before the fire started at the home on Graham Road just north of Commerce Drive around 5 a.m.

Video from 24-Hour News 8’s Chopper 8 showed only a shell of the home remaining. Several fire departments were called in to assist due to the cold temperatures.

Police are now trying to determine who set the home on fire. The homeowners were at their second home in Florida. No injuries were reported. Family members stopped by the home.

“I’m the angry one,” said Sandy Higginbotham. She’s the daughter of the home owners and says they’ve lived there for more than four decades. “I’m very hurt because my parents are older and this isn’t fair to do to older people,” she cried.

Before her parents could make it home, Higginbotham was there trying to make sense of something so senseless.

“I really can’t think of anybody who would do this to my parents. They’re so well known in the community. My mother and father are very Christian,” she explained.

Perhaps symbolic of their faith; a Bible amidst the charred rubble. Although it was burnt, it wasn’t burnt beyond recognition like most everything else in the heaping pile of soot and and ashes.

But this wasn’t just a fire. Police believe the suspect stole a mini van which led authorities to investigate the matter as criminal.

“This could simply be a burglary that occured yesterday where they set the home on fire just to be mean and stole the vehicle from the garage. (They) probably stole contents out of the house also,” said Sheriff Doug Cox of Johnson County.

The home was destroyed and Cox believes it’ll difficult to determine what, if anything, was stolen from inside the home. He says the fire could’ve also been accidently set. But, because there is a stolen vehicle involved, it’s still a criminal matter. If you have any information that could help in the investigation, call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at (317) 736-9155.

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This is the van homeowners say is missing.

Graham Road was shut down in the area as emergency crews responded.

Stay with WISHTV.com for updates.