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Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Second suspect charged in Celina vehicle fires

Men remain in jail on $100,000 bonds

By Shelley Grieshop
CELINA - A second man was arrested Thursday night for a series of arson fires that damaged several vehicles in the northeast section of the city early Tuesday morning.
Robert E. Milligan II, 19, 509 N. Mill St., Celina, appeared for an arraignment this morning in Celina Municipal Court to face a single charge of arson, a fourth-degree felony. He is accused of setting fire to a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am. Milligan faces a maximum 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The first suspect arrested, Ridge A. Matthews, also 19 and of Celina, also appeared in court this morning for an arraignment hearing. He is charged with two counts of arson, fourth-degree felonies, and he faces the same maximum sentence if convicted.
Matthews also is charged with setting the fire that charred the Pontiac Grand Am, and another that damaged a 2000 Ford F150 pickup truck. Police continue to investigate a total of four vehicle fires on Kensington Court, Meadowview Drive and Queensbury Drive.
At the request of the county prosecutor's office, both men were placed on a $100,000 bond subject to 10 percent. They were ordered, if released from jail, to have no alcohol or drugs, be subject to random drug/alcohol testing, not be in an establishment that serves alcohol and obey all laws.
Scheer said he agreed with the high bond amount because of the seriousness of the crimes and the risk posed to the community and firefighters.
Authorities believe the two young men are responsible for the arsons and possibly other vandalism that took place in the same area of the city during the weekend and Tuesday morning. Celina Interim Police Chief Cal Freeman said the pair "hung out" but did not live in the neighborhood where the crimes took place.
He noted there could be more arrests as the investigation continues.
"This is ongoing. It's not over with yet," he added.
Milligan also was charged in municipal court this week in a related case for unauthorized use of property during the crime spree Tuesday. Authorities believe he stole a lawn mower from a home on Yorkshire Court and hid it in a cornfield.
Pretrials were not set in the felony cases. Judge James Scheer said a hearing likely would be scheduled within the next 10 days unless a grand jury hands down indictments against the men. If that occurs, the cases will be heard in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
Both men quietly and briefly answered various questions from Scheer. Family members of Matthews cried when he entered the courtroom. During the proceeding, one of them openly insinuated that Matthews and Milligan weren't the only ones responsible for the crimes, and noted they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.
Scheer instructed them to discuss the matter further with Celina Police.  Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call the police department at 419-586-2345; the fire department at 419-586-2127; or the state fire marshal's office at 800-589-2728. Information leading to an arrest and conviction could result in a $5,000 reward from the state's Blue Ribbon Arson Committee.
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