Killeen police arrested a 49-year-old woman they said set fire to her hotel room.

Catherine Emma Mitchem was charged with arson in connection with a fire at the Modern Inn in the 1000 block of Root Avenue on July 20. A Bell County grand jury indicted Mitchem on Wednesday on a charge of arson.

The fire caused damage to three rooms at the hotel and caused an evacuation of the entire property, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police did not find Mitchem at the property when firefighters initially responded to the fire, according to a news release.

A tip to Crime Stoppers led police to find her Tuesday in the 3200 block of Cantabrian Drive, where she was arrested without incident.

Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke arraigned Mitchem on Wednesday, setting her bail at $50,000.

Investigation showed Mitchem poured lighter fluid on a basket of laundry on her bed and then set it on fire. It caused fire damage to her room and smoke damage to two adjacent rooms, according to the affidavit.

Cooke also arraigned the following on unrelated charges:

  • Ernest Alfred Dufour Jr., 35, on a charge of forgery by passing. Dufour’s bail was set at $20,000.
  • Jonas Michael Holder, 31, on a charge of possession of methamphetamine, less than 1 gram. Holder’s bail was set at $20,000.
  • Patricia Joanne Murphy, 41, on a charge of possession of methamphetamine, less than 1 gram. Murphy’s bail was set at $20,000.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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