A McLennan County grand jury indicted Wednesday a former Bush’s Chicken employee and another man in an arson fire that damaged the Bush’s restaurant in China Spring in March.

The grand jury indicted John Ryder Whited, 19, on arson, burglary and tampering with physical evidence charges, while charging Kolby Jordan Cagle, 17, with tampering with evidence.

Authorities said Cagle was working at the restaurant the day of the fire and returned with Whited after it closed. Whited used gasoline to start the fire, according to court records.

Fire crews were called to Bush’s Chicken, 12739 China Spring Road, about 2:30 a.m. after a caller reported smoke coming from the business. The men are charged with starting the fire to cover up their burglary and attempted theft from a restaurant safe.

Investigators say Whited cut his hand breaking into the business, leaving behind blood.

“(A detective) learned that Whited sustained burns from a flash of fire when it ignited,” an arrest warrant affidavit says. “(Detectives) learned where John Whited was living in Hutto and went to speak with him. He denied involvement in setting the fire and claimed to have received his burns from a bonfire at a friend’s house.”

Detectives reported that after Cagle and Whited left the business after the fire, they took off their clothes and shoes and threw them into a fire in an attempt to destroy evidence, according to court records.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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