A man from Iron County, Missouri on Tuesday admitted committing an October crime spree that included arsons in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and the assault of a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer.
Lucas G. Henson, 37, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. to three counts: assaulting a law enforcement officer, arson, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Henson admitted that after being charged with stealing and drug offenses last year, he was out on bond when he stole a Ford van on Oct. 22, 2022, from Patriot Rentals near Poplar Bluff, Missouri before abandoning it when it ran out of gas. Later that day he broke into a camper at Poplar Bluff RV Sales and stole items from it.
The next day, he stole a Dodge pickup truck, then burglarized someone’s home and stole a Ruger LC9 9mm handgun. He stole a crossbow from a workshop near the home. When the truck’s owner found Henson, Henson pointed the pistol at the truck’s owner and drove away. Law enforcement officers, notified by the truck’s owner, joined the chase. Henson crashed the truck in Mark Twain National Forest, then started a fire and burned the handgun and the items that he’d stolen from the camper before fleeing into the forest.
Law enforcement officers began tracking Henson with dogs. When they got close, he started a fire to prevent being captured. He started a second fire when they approached him again. Later, he pointed the crossbow at a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer, as well as other officers, before crossing the Black River and fleeing again. Henson was eventually caught near the river. He admitted his crimes in interviews with officers.
The fires burned a total of 7.61 acres of land. Burn orders were in effect at the time due to the dry and windy conditions, and Henson’s fires kept leaping over the fire lines established by firefighters. Crews eventually had to construct “dozer lines” to contain the fire and spent $7,228 fighting the fires.
Henson is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau on June 28. The assault charge carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison. The arson charge carries a mandatory minimum of 7 years with a maximum of 20 years and the gun charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. All charges also carry a possible fine of up to $250,000.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Shelton is prosecuting the case.