Mark Twain National Forest

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO — A Missouri man admitted Tuesday to committing arsons that burned over 7 acres of land in the Mark Twain National Forest, and assaulting a Forest Service officer with a crossbow.

Previous: Missouri man accused of starting fires in national forest and assaulting officer with crossbow pleads 'not guilty'

37-year-old Lucas Henson of Iron County originally pleaded not-guilty to charges of arson, assaulting a law enforcement officer, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in Dec. 2022. 

The DOJ says on Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to the charges in front of a U.S. District Judge. 

According to the release, Henson admitted that in October of 2022, while out on bond after being charged with stealing and drug offenses, he stole a van from Patriot Rentals near Poplar Bluff, Missouri — abandoning it when it ran out of gas. Later that day, he reportedly broke into an RV at the same business and stole items from it. 

The following day, Henson stole a Dodge pickup truck, stole a handgun from someone's home, and stole a crossbow from a workshop near the home, the release explains. 

Henson reportedly crashed the truck in the Mark Twain National Forest, burned the handgun and other stolen items, then fled into the forest. 

According to the release, law enforcement officers began tracking Henson with the assistance of dogs, but when they got close, he started a fire to prevent being caught. 

He reportedly started a second fire when they approached him again, the release says, later pointing the stolen crossbow at a U.S. Forest Service officer and others, before crossing the Black River and fleeing.

According to the release, he was caught near the river and admitted his crimes during interviews with officers. 

The fires reportedly burned a total of 7.61 acres of land and crews spent over $7,000 fighting them. 

Henson is reportedly scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau on June 28. According to the release, the assault charge carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison, the arson charge carries a mandatory minimum of 7 years and maximum of 20 years, and the gun charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years. All charges also carry a possible fine up to $250,000, the DOJ says.