News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 25, 2013

Transient charged in connection with recent arsons

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A transient man with a criminal history stretching across the county has been charged in connection with two recent arsons in Terre Haute.

Charles Dinkins, 59, refused to leave his Vigo County Jail cell on Monday to appear in Vigo Superior Court 3.

However, he has been charged with two counts of class-B felony arson, as well as two counts of being a habitual offender.

Dinkins was arrested recently by arson investigator Norm Loudermilk, who told the Tribune-Star that a witness connected Dinkins to a June 3 fire at a vacant house on Cleveland Street, and video connected Dinkins to a fire outside the Copper Bar on June 16.

“It’s lucky that the business downtown had some video on him so we could show it to a witness,” Loudermilk said, “or else he could have left town and we’d never know who had done it.”

The video showed a man taking a box out of a trash container and setting it on fire next to the rear of the building.

The fire caused more than $5,000 damage, making it a class-B felony. The incident occurred at about 7 a.m. June 16.

Using an image from that video, the witness to the Cleveland Street fire was able to identify Dinkins as the suspect she saw sitting on the steps of a vacant house in the 2100 block on June 3. The witness said she saw Dinkins when she took her child to summer school, and when she returned home, the vacant house was on fire. Loudermilk reported that the fire originated in both the front room and near the back door of the home, and that accelerant was used.

Dinkins was arrested June 18. A background check determined that he had criminal convictions in several states including Wisconsin and Florida, and in Vancouver, British Columbia.