The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

December 4, 2012

Prosecutor takes extra week to consider charges in Elwood fire

ELWOOD, Ind. — Prosecutors are still considering charges against four juveniles arrested in connection with the burning of the abandoned State Plating building Friday in Elwood, but at least one teen could be charged as an adult.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings confirmed on Tuesday that one juvenile hearing has already been held but he asked the judge for another week to review the charges. The delay is related to a prosecutors’ meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

“We might charge one of them as an adult,” Cummings said. “But we’re not really sure right now how we want to move forward. We have 10 days to file charges. I want to consult with the juvenile prosecutor and review the case a little more.”

The juveniles believed to be responsible for the blaze on the city’s northwest side range in age from 13-17, and Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold’s son is among them. The hearing will likely be next week, Cummings said.

The four teens were seen leaving the building site shortly before the blaze started by a witness who identified two of them and closely described the other two, said Elwood Police Chief Sam Hanna.

Detectives collected the four over the course of Friday night and brought them in for questioning. The suspects placed themselves in the vicinity of the fire, Hanna said.

Elwood city officials sealed the site Tuesday after the Indiana fire marshal inspected the area and declared it secured, said Elwood public information officer Jeff Howe.

“It’s still being investigated and we expect to hear a report from the fire marshal in a week or two,” Howe said.

The Elwood Fire Department has been observing the building since the blaze, keeping an eye on possible hot spots that could cause a rekindle, Howe said.

The future of the site and the building are still unclear, Howe said.

The large structure fire was battled by Elwood and other fire departments from around the area for nearly three hours Friday.

The building used to house Hoosier Metal Finishing until it was bought by Mick Melvin in 1965. Melvin changed the name to State Plating and ran the company until 1984, when he sold it to his son Kevin.

State Plating was heavily involved in the bicycle and furniture industry during its peak, Melvin said. The company was one of the largest nickel-finishing manufacturers in the world, according to Melvin.

His son ran the company for 18 years and sold the company to a brick manufacturing company called Cherokee. State Plating closed in 2008 and has been empty since.

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @J4keSteel on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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