A St. Louis man was recently arrested after setting fire to a Chevy Monte Carlo located at the Perry County Community Lake. Federico Hurtado-Melgarejo, 29, was charged with knowingly burning, forgery (for a forged international license) and fugitive warrant possession of a controlled substance.
Last weekend around midnight the police responded to a call about a vehicle fire out by the lake at a boat ramp. The Perryville Fire Department was called to the scene and worked to contain the fire. They were able to identify not only the vehicle but where the singed car was registered.
While the police were in the area they happened upon a man in a ditch nearby. The man was later identified as Federico Hurtado-Melgarejo While police continued the investigation they happened upon two more Hispanic males waiting in a nearby Walmart parking lot in a vehicle that was also registered to Hurtado. The other men revealed that Hurtado had driven the car to the lake where he then set it on fire. They were told to wait at the Walmart for him to return.
All three men were detained but the two sitting in the Walmart parking lot were released without being charged.
Fire crimes in Missouri are no laughing matter and though they may seem minor, they are anything but. The vehicle fire in this case was on a smaller scale than typical incidents of arson which can result in severe penalties. A person is guilty of arson in Missouri when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forestland, or property. Any act of arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to nine years.
In Missouri, Hurtado was able to avoid the more serious charge of arson because the state’s law says that arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person’s structure, forestland, or property.
Setting fires is a very serious criminal offense, as any experienced St. Louis criminal defense attorney can tell you. A conviction can land you in jail and result in a substantial loss of your freedom. If you have been accused of arson or any other criminal offense, don’t hesitate to contact our St. Louis criminal law firm today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: “St. Louis man arrested for setting car on fire at Perryville lake,” by Amber Ruch, published at KFVS12.com.