January 29, 2014

Trailer fire investigation leads to arrest

Man charged with receiving stolen property, theft

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — The investigation of a trailer fire in Logansport late last month didn’t turn up what sparked the blaze, but did lead to allegations that a neighbor was powering his home with stolen electricity.

Rex Danely, a lieutenant with the Cass County Fire District, said there wasn’t enough information to determine the cause of a fire that tore through a trailer on the 900 block of Stanley Street in late December.

No one was in the trailer at the time of the fire and neighbors said the owner lives in Kokomo.

Although the cause of the fire is unknown, the investigation did lead to the arrest of the neighbor of the burned trailer after it was discovered he was powering his home with electricity he wasn’t paying for.

A case report filed by Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy Branson Eber states nails to draw power were discovered in the electric meter boxes for both the trailer damaged by the fire and a neighboring trailer — the home of Russell Haynes, 34.

Danely said he and others investigating the scene were unable to determine a definite cause after searching through the charred interior of the trailer.

Bob Dunderman, electric distribution manager at Logansport Municipal Utilities, said using a nail in place of an electric meter to complete the necessary connection to steal electricity generally only causes fires in extraordinary circumstances.

Eber’s report states Haynes denied he had any electricity in his trailer. However, a neighbor told Eber he saw Christmas lights on at Haynes’ trailer the previous evening.

Haynes was later arrested for theft of public utility.

Eber goes on to write that during his investigation he met John Hook, also a resident of the trailer park, who said he recently had a FedEx package stolen from his property.

The report states later that day, Eber was notified of a man entering Haynes’ trailer and removing items. Eber returned to the trailer to find the man was Hook retrieving the contents of the package he earlier said had been stolen.

Eber then called the Cass County Jail and got in touch with Haynes, who said Hook had permission to be at the residence.

Haynes later admitted he stole the package and Hook chose to press charges.

Eber reported Haynes maintained he is not responsible for the nail allowing his trailer to have electricity, “but knew he had electricity and was not paying for it and that it was illegal.”

The Cass County Prosecutor’s Office charged Haynes with receiving stolen property and theft, both class D felonies. Haynes entered a preliminary plea of not guilty earlier this month. A jury trial is scheduled for April.