2nd arrest made in Medford arson case

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, August 1 2014 at 6:35 PM, Updated: Tue, August 5 2014 at 1:06 AM

Medford, Ore. -- Police have arrested a second suspect they think may have set some of the roughly 20 unsolved arson fires since late June.

Gregory Stabile is in the Jackson County Jail charged with 1st and 2nd degree arson, among other charges.

"That circle of rocks, that's where he was sitting," said witness Barbara Stephens.

A normal Thursday afternoon turned frightening just after 4:30pm when she said she watched a man set fire to an area across the street from her home.

"When he went to sit down, I thought he got stung cause he got up so fast," began Stephens.

"As soon as he started walking the flames started... I was just afraid he was going to set the whole block on fire," she continued.

That's when Stephens called 911 and said the man she saw is 29-year-old Gregory William Stabile. After looking at a picture of Stabile, she confirmed it was the same person she saw set the fire.

Stabile was arraigned on arson charges Friday for allegedly setting fire to the backsides of two buildings in the 1100 block of West 9th Street in Medford.

He appeared via video conferencing in a Jackson County Courtroom. Stabile maintained his innocence, saying he was not at the scene when the fire broke out.

As fire crews arrived on scene Thursday afternoon, Stephens said Stabile came back, this time with a 6-year-old girl in tow. Police said the girl is the suspect's girlfriend's daughter.

"I was just shocked when I looked up there, and went there he goes right there," said Stephens.

According to Stephens, Stabile walked across the street after fire crews arrived. She said a man named Jason who had stopped to help put out the flames, chased Stabile when Stephens pointed him out. As Jason gave chase, a detective with Medford Police was passing by and helped arrest Stabile.

"They [witnesses] were clutch, had we not had their alertness or action, we probably would not have an arrest in this case," said Medford Police Lieutenant Mike Budreau.

Tina Grant owns the shop that caught fire. She said she's grateful it didn't spread to her home and that it happened during the day.

"The shop is really old so it wouldn't take much for it to go up in flames and like I said, it could have been at like 2am and then I could have lost everything," began Grant.

"I'm glad I have neighbors out looking out for everything. So very very blessed on that part of it," she said.

Debra Johns was arrested last week for her alleged role in Medford's recent arsons.

"We suspected that she could be responsible for the majority but not all. There were some that were a little bit outside of her MO," said Budreau.

According to Budreau, Johns and Stabile may be involved in more fires than the ones they're currently charged with, however police may never be able to prove it since in many of the fires evidence was burned up.

In addition, Budreau said it's rare to have two arsonists in the same area and their two suspects were likely not working together.

However, police believe there could be a third arsonist out there, so they're remaining vigilant.

Police are also asking for witnesses who may have seen the 6-year-old girl on a Razor scooter in the area. Contact police if you have information.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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