Sherry L. Thomas
Sherry L. Thomas
A warrant was served on a Nappanee woman facing charges for three barn fires in Kosciusko County.

Sherry L. Thomas, 33, of 1200 N. Main St., #304, Nappanee, is charged with three counts of arson, Level 4 felonies.

She was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail at 2:25 p.m. Thursday. No bond was listed.

According to the probable cause affidavit, on April 26, 2021, a barn fire was reported in Milford. The Milford Fire Department responded and extinguished a fully engulfed barn fire, causing extensive damage to the barn. Damage was estimated at $100,000. The fire was deemed suspicious by responding emergency personnel.

On June 10, 2021, a barn fire was reported in Nappanee. The Nappanee Fire Department responded and extinguished a fully engulfed barn fire. Damage was estimated at $21,850. The fire was deemed suspicious as well.

On June 10, 2021, another barn fire was reported in Nappanee. The Nappanee Fire Department responded to the fully engulfed barn fire and put it out. This fire was also deemed suspicious and damage was estimated at $15,000.

Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department investigators, while investigating multiple barn fires in their jurisdiction through Google geo fence data, were able to determine a phone number associated with Thomas was near the location of multiple barn fires that were being investigated just prior to the fire being allegedly ignited. The investigators uncovered an association between Thomas and Joseph D. Hershberger, who was known by investigators to be involved in a previous arson investigation.

Investigators completed a long-term surveillance of Thomas and Hershberger, which allegedly indicated activity consistent with locating structures that would match the previous barn fires.

On Nov. 30, 2021, investigators executed search warrants on Thomas’ and Hershberger’s residences, vehicles and electronic devices, which allegedly provided evidence implicating both parties in starting multiple barn fires in Elkhart County.

Investigators interviewed Thomas, who allegedly admitted to being present during the ignition of all of barn fires they were investigating. While speaking with investigators, Thomas said the fire in Milford and the two in Nappanee sounded familiar, believing she and Hershberger were allegedly responsible for those fires. Thomas identified one of the Nappanee fires as being set by Hershberger with her being present during the ignition of the fire.

Investigators interviewed Hershberger, who allegedly admitted that he and Thomas ignited at least eight barn fires but did not believe it was more than 12 barn fires throughout northern Indiana. Hershberger admitted he and Thomas ignited one of the Nappanee barn fires, according to court documents.

Investigators, through the execution of search warrants, compiled geo fence data and Google location services data finding Thomas’ electronic devices were located in close proximity to the Milford barn fires and the two Nappanee barn fires just prior to the fires being set.

Thomas and Hershberger were sentenced for their involvement in setting eight barns on fire in Elkhart County in 2021. Thomas received a 10-year sentence and eight years being served through Michiana Community Corrections and two years suspended on probation. Hershberger received 50 years in prison and 46 years parole.

They are facing charges for allegedly starting a fire at a school in Bremen. Thomas has a status conference for that case on April 27, while Hershberger’s is June 22.