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Garvin man starts vehicle on fire, charged with arson


SLAYTON -- A criminal complaint signed by a judge Wednesday charged a Garvin man with second-degree arson and first-degree criminal damage to property after he allegedly started a variety of fires on his parents' property.

Mark Carl Mickelson, 47, of Garvin, is also charged with failure to report a fire, burning prohibited materials and burning a motor vehicle.

The complaint states authorities and the Tracy Fire Department were dispatched to 2345 190th Ave. Monday shortly after noon after dispatch received a call of a vehicle on fire. The caller indicated the house was locked up and was unsure if anyone was injured or at the residence.

The fire department arrived before the Murray County Sheriff's Office deputy. The fire chief contacted dispatch and asked that the deputy "step it up," advising there were multiple fires outside the residence and he believed a domestic dispute might be occurring.

At the residence, the chief told the deputy the firefighters had contact with a male when they first arrived. The male, he said, was throwing personal items, including guns, on a fire on the north side of the residence. The man asked the fire chief why the department was there and was told a vehicle fire had been reported.

The chief told the deputy the man had then continued to throw items on the fire.

The deputy located the man, later identified as Mickelson, in the house and learned he was a resident there. The property, Mickelson allegedly reported, was owned by his parents.

When asked why he was burning his parents' belongings, Mickelson allegedly stated he did not have to tell the deputy why, and said his parents knew what he was doing and that he had permission to burn the items.

When asked for identification, Mickelson reportedly stated he had burned it.

As a precaution, the deputy detained the man and placed him in his squad car.

A member of the Tracy Fire Department escorted the deputy around the property, where four fires had been located. On the north side of the residence near the couple's first floor bedroom, numerous personal belongings of the owners were found in the fire. Those included bank statements, pictures, birth certificates, five long guns and two handguns, jewelry, coins and silverware.

In a burn site behind an outbuilding, fire fighters found burnt tire rims, the hard drive from a computer and some picture frames. Near the granary on the property, several antiques including a baker's rack and dresser drawer sets were found. Ablaze on the fire department's arrival was a 1989 Nissan PXX. The vehicle was registered in Mickelson's name.

The deputy tried to contact Mickelson's parents, and asked him if he knew where his parents were. He said they had gone to a resort up north.

The deputy spoke with Mickelson's sister and explained what had occurred. The woman allegedly said she felt there was no possible way their parents would have given her brother permission to burn the items. The guns, she explained, were prized possession of her father, and her mother dealt in antiques and would not allow someone to burn her inventory.

The fire marshal investigated the multiple scenes and determined they were all intentional, and due to that fact and because the deputy had not been able to contact the property owners, the deputy arrested Mickelson for arson and property damage.

Mickelson opted to not give a statement, and asked to speak to an attorney. He was taken to the Murray County Law Enforcement Center.

When the fire fighters located a bed covered with fresh dirt near an unattached garage, they requested the deputy and fire marshal look at the site. Because attempts to locate and contact Mickelson's parents had been unsuccessful four hours after the fires were reported, and due to Mickelson's alleged bizarre behavior, authorities decided to excavate the area to make sure no bodies had been buried under the bed. No bodies or evidence were located at the site.

The deputy had dispatch send a teletype to the Brainerd area in an attempt to locate Mickelson's parents, and received a phone call from Mickelson's father after 6 p.m. He said his daughter had contacted him and he was aware of the situation. He told the deputy he had spoken with his son that morning and had not noticed anything unusual about his behavior.

His son had in no way been given permission to burn any of their personal belongings, he said.

Documents were filed Wednesday granting Mickelson a public defender and ordering that he receive an evaluation for competency to proceed.