Zebulon man accused of trying to burn home where women, 2 children were

From staff reportsDecember 13, 2012 

John Henry Rivers


— Police on Wednesday accused a 71-year-old man of trying to set fire to a house where his former girlfriend, their child and another child were staying.

John Henry Rivers was arrested at his home at 1479 Smokey Mountain Drive and charged with first-degree attempted arson.

On Dec. 1, police alleged, Rivers poured gasoline around the house at 114 E. Barbee St. where Sharna Vanover and the two children were.

She and another person saw Rivers, Chief Timothy P. Hayworth said, she called police and Rivers ran off.

Police had been looking for him since then, Hayworth said.

Rivers and Vanover “came here about two years ago” from Rhode Island, Hayworth said. They ended a romantic involvement sometime after that, he said.

“We don’t really know this guy,” Hayworth said, adding that Rivers had not had any contact with police in Zebulon before this incident.

A criminal record report submitted with the warrant for his arrest, however, shows that he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Rhode Island in December 1969 and had been arrested in Providence the previous January on charges of murder and assault with intent to kill.

The records also show several other arrests by Providence and Rhode Island State Police after that, including a November 1990 charge of cocaine possession.

Rivers was held on a $200,000 bond on the attempted arson charge.

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