Ohio man arrested on suspicion of terrorism

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | 2:34 p.m. CDT; updated 4:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ST. LOUIS — An Ohio man has been jailed on a terrorist charge after threatening in a phone conversation to set fire to a firm selling extended car warranties, authorities said.

Charles Papenfus, 43, called a telemarketing firm in St. Louis in May after receiving a mailing that said a factory warranty had expired on a Ford Taurus driven by his 23-year-old son, his wife, Tracie Papenfus, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The car had been purchased as-is for $3,000 and hadn't had a factory warranty in years. He repeatedly asked why the mailing had been sent, when they'd never had a factory warranty on the car, she said.

He called back to complain some more, and when the firm called to return a voice mail he'd left, he said he would burn down the firm's building and kill employees and their families, according to court documents.

"They insulted each other," said Douglas Forsyth, a lawyer representing Charles Papenfus. He said Charles  Papenfus referred to "a scam," and the lawyer said the telemarketer then called Charles Papenfus names.

Forsyth said several minutes into the call, Charles Papenfus said something about burning down the firm's building. Court records don't identify the firm, but only one firm at the address, TXEN Partners, provides auto service contracts, also called extended warranties.

A man who answered the phone Tuesday at TXEN Partners, which does business as Service Protection Direct, declined comment.

The Better Business Bureau recently accused the firm of sending mailers to consumers that incorrectly state factory warranties on their vehicles either have expired or will run out soon. Last year, then-Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the firm for misleading customers. As part of a settlement, the business was to only refer to expiring warranties if it believed in good faith that those claims were true.

Tracie Papenfus said she hasn't seen her husband since his arrest on June 27, when he went to a Fostoria, Ohio, police station. She said she can't post his $45,000 bond. He is jailed in St. Louis.

She said her husband's outburst was unusual for him, but said he was on prescription painkillers for a wrist fracture he had gotten in a motorcycle accident a few days before. Forsyth said irritability can be a side effect from the drugs.

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