Freshman arrested for alleged arson, prohibited from UNA

An 18-year-old UNA freshman was arrested March 24 in his dorm by Jasper police for allegedly burning down a special needs playground in Jasper the previous weekend.

Jasper police Chief Danny Patton said Benjamin Logan Speck, a 2010 Curry High School graduate, is charged with first-degree criminal mischief, which is a Class C felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

Speck, who was held in Jasper City Jail in lieu of a $15,000 bond, has since bailed out, according to police. UNA spokesman Josh Woods said Speck has been barred from returning to the university after violating UNA’s code of conduct.

“What the student allegedly did affects the university, even though it occurred off campus and not even in the Shoals area,” Woods said. “As far as UNA is concerned, this is being taken very seriously and the student has been prohibited from returning to campus until we are able to officially determine how it will be handled.”

Patton said Speck and two individuals were stopped in a vehicle by a Jasper officer March 20 after the fire took place. Police have not yet determined whether the two other individuals, whose names have not been released, will be charged in connection with the fire.

The fire, which was reported around 2:40 a.m. March 20, occurred at the APEX Playground at Memorial Park, which was designed for children with physical challenges. Jasper police report that the fire caused approximately $150,000 in damages to the playground that was built in 2007.