By Deb Patterson
ELKHART — Area news agencies are reporting Joseph Hershberger, 42, Nappanee, was sentenced today, Monday, Nov. 21, to 50 years in prison and 46 years on parole.
Hershberger was arrested in December 2021 for barn fires in Elkhart County on April 13, July 28 and Oct. 1. He was charged with eight counts of aiding, inducing or causing an offense: Arson Damage by fire, etc. property of another under circumstances that endanger, all level 4 felonies; contributing to the delinquency of a minor-crime, a level 4 felony with a child under 16, a level 3 felony.
The sentence today was handed down by Elkhart County Superior Court 2 Judge Stephen R. Bowers, per a plea agreement.
Currently there is an active warrant for Hershberger’s arrest in Kosciusko Superior Court 1, where three charges of arson damage by fire, level 4 felonies, were filed Nov. 15. Additionally Marshall County has filed a charge of arson, a level 4 felony, in its Superior Court 1. That charge was filed March 23.
Sherry L. Thomas, 32, Nappanee, who was also arrested in connection with the fires, is scheduled to appear in Elkhart Superior Court 2 on Nov. 28 for a change of plea hearing. She is facing the same charges as Hershberger, plus additionally charges filed Nov. 16 in Kosciusko County, where no warrant has been issued. A warrant has been issued in Marshall County. Thomas faces the same charges in these counties as Hershberger.
The fires in Kosciusko County occurred on April 27 and two on June 10. The Marshall County charges stem from three separate barn fires on Sept. 9.
More details will be provided when information becomes available.