Cambridge man charged with arson, attempted murder

Joe Louis Winbush Jr.

CAMBRIDGE — Deputy State Fire Marshals along with the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) conducted a joint investigation Aug. 13 that led to the arrest of a 51-year-old man.

Cambridge police were called at 12:20 p.m. in regard to a male attempting to set an occupied dwelling on fire, a report from the CPD said. Upon officer’s arrival, a resident was attempting to extinguish a vehicle that was burning inside of an attached garage.

It was then learned that the subject was known to the victim of the residence. The victim said the man fled to a nearby wooded area. Officers located him a short time later, hiding in the wooded area and he was arrested without incident.
Further investigation revealed that three persons were inside the residence at the time of the incident when they heard what appeared to be an object striking the house and then heard glass breaking, which was caused by a brick. A plastic bottle was also located with what appeared to be lighter fluid inside. The police report said the man also made comments to one of the victims that they were going to die that day.

Rescue Fire Company was called to 100 Mako Drive at 12:20 p.m. When firefighters arrived, they observed fire damage to a 2013 Nissan Altima which was parked inside of the attached garage of the residence, a report from the Office of the State Fire Marshall said.
Fifteen firefighters from the Rescue Fire Company were able to place the one-alarm fire under control in 21 minutes. Due to the suspicious nature of the fire, firefighters requested the Office of the State Fire Marshal to conduct an origin and cause investigation.

Cambridge Police Department also responded to the scene and arrived prior to Deputy State Fire Marshals. Witnesses on scene identified the man as a possible suspect and he was immediately detained by CPD officers. The owner of the car was Cheryl Gross.

Fire investigators placed the origin of the fire at the rear driver’s side at the fuel filler. They determined the cause to be incendiary.
The fire caused approximately $1,000 in damages to the vehicle and $200 in damages to contents.

The investigation between the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Cambridge Police Department further developed the man as the suspect and revealed he was the former boyfriend of the car’s owner. They also determined the home was occupied during the fire.
Shortly after the fire, Joe Louis Winbush Jr. was charged with the following crimes: Arson 1st Degree, Arson 2nd Degree, Malicious Burning 1st Degree, Threat of Arson, Malicious Destruction of Property over $1,000, Malicious Destruction of Property under $1,000, three counts of 1st Degree Assault, three counts of 2nd Degree Assault and Reckless Endangerment.
If convicted of these crimes, he faces a maximum penalty of 188 years and two months of imprisonment and $119,500 in fines. Winbush was also charged with three counts of Attempted 1st Degree Murder, which carries a penalty of Life in Prison.
Winbush was transported to the Dorchester County Detention Center where he is being held with no bond.