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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Arrest made in restroom burning

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Two Greene County men have been arrested for allegedly burning a restroom facility at the Redbird State Riding Area, northeast of Dugger, on Feb. 29.

According to Master Officer Thomas Lahay of the Indiana Conservation Department, arrested Saturday were Marcus W. Napier, 18, and Kelly R. Wilson, 21, both of Jasonville.

The men were arrested around noon at their rural Jasonville homes. Both will be charged with arson and criminal mischief.

According to Lahay, the arrested took place after Indiana Conservation officers investigated an apparent arson of a new restroom facility at Redbird SRA. The newly acquired property was dedicated last spring.

Indiana Conservation officer Stephen Haines discovered that the restroom had been burned while on routine patrol at Redbird, which is an off-road vehicle riding area. Within days, officers received a number of tips from citizens that led them to Napier and Wilson.

According to investigators, six juveniles accompanied Napier and Wilson in the early morning hours of Feb. 29. The entire group allegedly set out in one vehicle on a "joy ride" from a rural Jasonville residence that eventually ended up on the south end of the Redbird SRA property, at the main parking lot.

Department of Natural Resources officials, with the assistance of a number of volunteer and civic groups, had just completed construction of a large parking facility, complete with ATV loading ramps, a check station and restroom facilities. Napier, Wilson and an unnamed juvenile allegedly set fire to the comfort station after using an accelerant on the building as a means of starting the fire. The other juveniles allegedly watched the incident from inside the vehicle.

"This is a new property that is one-of-a-kind in Indiana," said Haines. "It is good to know that the people who use this property on a regular basis are supportive in our enforcement efforts. They are the ones that provided us with enough information to make an arrest."

Haines was assisted in the investigation by Lahay and the Jasonville Police Department.

"The citizens of the local communities and the ATV riders can police these properties more efficiently that we can," Lahay said. "The off-road enthusiasts are the ones that really suffer from a loss like this one. I think in this case, however, that this is their way of telling vandals to take their business someplace else. We certainly appreciate everyone's cooperation in this investigation."

The restroom as well as the underground septic system, was a total loss.

Redbird SRA is funded through the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation, money generated from Indiana off-road vehicle registrations, and donations from private off-road groups.

Six juveniles, ages 14 to 17, will also likely face trespass charges. In addition, one of the juveniles will likely face arson and criminal mischief charges for his involvement in the destruction of the building, Lahay said.

Criminal mischief, where the pecuniary loss is greater than $2,500, is a class D felony.

According to the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Napier bonded out after paying 10 percent of a $19,000 bond. Wilson is still incarcerated.