Man charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to jail cell with pages from a Bible

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A man who allegedly used pages from a Bible to start a fire in the toilet of his cell in the Bowie County jail has been charged with arson.

Eric Lamar Murphy, 38, allegedly used a cup to empty the water from the bowl of his toilet in his cell in M-Pod on the afternoon of July 7, according to a probable cause document.

“Murphy then apparently ripped pages out of a Bible and placed them in the toilet along with a blanket and stuffing that he had removed from his mattress,” court documents state.

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Video surveillance footage allegedly showed Murphy slide a burning page from the Bible beneath his cell door at 2:25 p.m. This caused another inmate to bang on an exit door to alert correctional officers. Officers were able to use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

Murphy was the only person in the cell when the fire was set. The cell door and floor were damaged as well as jail-issued items including a blanket, mattress and clothing.

“There were many people to include inmates, employees, and citizens in the building at the time of this incident, and Eric Murphy’s actions endangered the safety of them all,” documents state.

Murphy has been charged with second-degree felony arson. If convicted he faces 2 to 20 years in prison.

Bail on the arson charge has been set at $250,000. At the time of the fire, Murphy was being held on charges of criminal mischief and evading arrest.

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