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California man charged with local arson

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Christopher Tuttonbene

A California man was arrested last week in connection with a house fire in Holladay. The fire was investigated by special agent fire investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) at the request of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO).

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Benton County dispatch received a call regarding a breaking-and-entering in progress at a home in the 600 block of Morris Road in Holladay. The complainant reported that a suspicious male was on the porch of his weekend home. The homeowner was engaging with the man through security cameras set up near the home’s front door. 

Before law enforcement could arrive, the culprit breached the doorway, made entry into the home, and disabled the cameras. When BCSO and Tennessee Highway Patrol officers made it on-scene, the male subject was gone from the address. 

Sheriff Kenny Christopher reported that the house was on fire, members of the Holladay-McIllwain Volunteer Fire Department (HMFD) and Benton County Electric System were dispatched to the location, and a “be on the lookout for” (BOLO) alert was put out on the man and his vehicle. 

Shortly thereafter, BCSO made contact with the suspect and his vehicle at the 126 exit of I-40. The man, Christopher M. Tuttonbene, 32, of Temecula, Calif., was arrested, taken into custody, and booked into the Benton County Jail.

After the fire was fully extinguished by HMFD, TBI agents joined BCSO personnel in investigating the cause of the house fire. Investigators determined the fire had been set intentionally. Tuttonbene, who had been seen on the security cameras installed at the home, quickly was identified as the individual responsible for starting the fire.

As a result of the investigation, Tuttonbene was charged with arson, burglary, and vandalism. His bond is set at $250,000.

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