Arson suspect arrested for car fire, other charges

Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 11:21 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Police have arrested Martin J. Sykes, 38, on suspicion of domestic disturbance and car arson. 

Police responded to an emergency call at 10:55 p.m. Wednesday at Georgetown Complex Apartments at 1548 Towne Drive. They found a car "fully engulfed in flames" and extinguished it after five minutes, according to a Columbia Fire Department news release.  Although no injuries or structural damage occurred, the vehicle is considered a total loss. Fire department investigators determined the fire was intentionally set.

According to the news release, a witness saw the suspect in and around the vehicle, and after a description was given, the suspect was subsequently arrested at 2416 Paris Road.

The police had been called to the same residence Tuesday night in response to a domestic disturbance.  Upon arriving, police said they learned that the suspect had been in a physical altercation with the victim, with whom he had previously had a social relationship.  The incident falls under current domestic violence laws. 

Sykes has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of trespass in the first degree, one misdemeanor count for third-degree domestic assault, one misdemeanor count for second-degree property damage andone felony count of knowingly burning or exploding.

The investigation will be referred to the Domestic Violence Unit of the Columbia Police Department and the Fire Marshall's Office of the Columbia Fire Department.

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