(BLOOMFIELD) - A convicted arsonist and burglar remains at large after a warrant was issued last week for his arrest on preliminary charges of making threats against one of the owners of the former Heaton Bowling and Recreation Center, the business William J. Meek, Jr. was convicted of burning down in 2002.
Nick Schneider, Co-editor of the Greene County Daily World, reports that a warrant was issued Jan. 13 in Greene Superior Court for the arrest of Meek, of Bloomfield, on preliminary charges of intimidation ---- a class D felony; and intimidation (threatening another to place them in fear of retaliation for a prior act) ---- a class A misdemeanor.
Meek is accused of making threats to do bodily harm to Brad Heaton, whose family owned the bowling center that was burnt to the ground in an arson fire during the early morning hours on Sept. 28, 2002.
The first threat allegedly made on Jan. 8 was made to two clerks at the Petro PlusService Station, located at 525 W. Main Street in Bloomfield, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Bloomfield Deputy Town Marshal Marvin Holt.
Meek is alleged to have told the clerks that "he was going to hunt Heaton down and kill him," Holt wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
Both clerks gave voluntary statements to police.
On the same evening, he is alleged to have issued a second threat against Heaton to Ralph Page, of Bloomfield, who was in Aggies Funhouse, a downtown Bloomfield bar.
"Page said that if he saw Heaton, to tell him to watch his back," according to Holt's report.
After hearing the threat, Page, a former Greene County Courthouse Security Officer , went to the Greene County Sheriff's Department and gave a voluntary statement.
Heaton gave a recorded statement to police about the alleged threats on Jan. 9 and said he was 'worried that is family was endangered'. He was advised to obtain a protective order and to purchase video cameras for the outside areas of his home.
When questioned by police, Meek denied making the threats, but did tell police he was upset because he had done eight years in prison for crimes, he alleged that he did not commit.
In Jan. 2004, Meek was convicted in Greene Circuit Court of arson and burglary in connection with the bowling alley fire after a five-day trial.
Meek, who lived in Elnora at the time, was found guilty of burglarizing, stealing cash and then setting business ablaze.
At the time, owners the late Bill and Brad Heaton estimate more than $650,000 in damages to the building and contents.
Meek was convicted in 2004 to 14 years for the arson and 6 years for the burglary.
He was released from prison in Sept. 2010.
Meek had previously worked part-time at the bowling alley, formerly located two miles west of Bloomfield along State Road 54. About six months before the fire, but quit the job after a dispute with one of the owners, according to court records.
In his closing argument, former county prosecutor Powell challenged the 12-jurors to look at the evidence presented in the case and determine who is telling the truth.
The prosecutor asked Meeks why he made a point to take photos of the burningbuilding, Meek said, "It's a part of my history. I just wanted to take the pictures."
However, in his closing argument, Powell said he believed the defendant had other reasons for snapping the photographs.
"Why did the defendant take the pictures? He wanted a trophy of his crime. He's guilty of this crime," Powell said.
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