A London man was arraigned Tuesday on charges alleging he set a barn ablaze in Mt. Sterling.
Christopher Adam Petee, 39, of London, is charged with arson and breaking and entering after he allegedly set fire to a barn on Cook Yankeetown Road, Fayette County, in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.
The resident owner at the property reported that at 12:30 a.m. he heard a noise from the barn and looked outside but didn’t see anything. The owner of the barn said approximately 15 minutes later he heard another noise and looked outside to see flames coming out of his barn, according to reports.
The owner reported he went to the barn to try to save some of the property inside the barn that he could safely get to, as his wife called 911.
Upon arrival, Range Township Fire Department Chief Dave Taylor heard the owner of the barn yelling that someone was inside a second barn on the property. A person was seen leaving the second barn, getting into a white SUV, and driving across the pasture onto Cook Yankeetown Road heading toward US 62, reports state. Chief Taylor said he followed the suspect across the plowed pasture and was able to get the license plate number before his vehicle became stuck in the plowed field.
The registration to the vehicle matched to Petee, reports said.
Authorities questioned Petee’s mother, who allegedly said Petee had not come home the night of Dec. 23. She told authorities she believed he was under the influence and hallucinating when Petee called her hours later and said he was stuck in a field and there were children around his vehicle, according to reports.
At approximately 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, Fayette County deputy sheriff Sara Hempstead reported that she located Petee “way back in a field” on Cook Yankeetown Road approximately two miles from the scene of the fire. Petee was allegedly asleep inside the SUV.
Less than an hour later, Petee was at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Annex and agreed to speak with deputy sheriff Brian Dement, reports said.
In a report written by deputy Dement, Petee allegedly said he dropped off a friend in Jeffersonville at 11:30 p.m. and did not know how he got to Cook Yankeetown Road, but said he had been stuck in the field for two to three days and was not aware of the barn fire.
Dement said that it was impossible that Petee was stuck in the field for two or three days because had been identified by witnesses leaving the barn in the same vehicle.
Petee allegedly admitted to Dement that he had used heroin three days prior to being located in the field.
Petee’s shoes and hoodie were collected as evidence and sent to the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s lab, reports said.
The fire marshal and a detective were called to the scene to investigate. According to reports, the barn was destroyed. The second barn was not set on fire, reports said.
The case was investigated and presented to a Fayette County grand jury. Petee was indicted by the grand jury in February and arraigned Tuesday in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas. He is being held in the Fayette County Jail on a $5,000 cash-only bond.
Records show a warrant was recently issued for Petee out of Madison County on a probation violation. Reports state the sheriff’s office in Madison County is familiar with Petee. In the Madison County Municipal Court, Petee was sentenced Feb. 1 on misdemeanor charges of possession of drug instruments and possession of paraphernalia.
For drug treatment, the Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Services Board contracts with two providers in Fayette County:
— Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center, 1300 E. Paint St., Washington Court House, OH 43160. The phone number is 740-335-6935 and the crisis line is 740-335-7155.
— Fayette Recovery, 5 Fayette Center, Washington Court House, OH 43160. The phone number is 740-335-8228.
Ohioans may text the state crisis line for immediate help by sending the message ‘4hope’ to the number 741741 at any time.
To search for drug treatment locations by zip code, a state-wide locator can be accessed at www.emeraldjennyfoundation.org. The federal locators are available at www.hhs.gov/opioids/treatment/index.html under the section ‘Find Opioid Treatment Programs.’
Contact Ashley by calling (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton and sending a message.