Arson charges filed in connection with Cape apartment fire

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Criminal charges have been filed against a Cape Girardeau man police say is responsible for starting a fire Friday in a basement apartment at 721 N. Middle St.

Police are still looking for Neziah N. Wyatt, 32, who was charged with felony arson Monday.

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department responded to the residence just before 3 a.m. Friday to find heavy smoke coming from the back of the residence.

The moderate fire and heat damage was confined to the basement apartment's bathroom and bedroom, where the tenant said her boyfriend started a mattress on fire, according to court documents filed in the case by Cape Girardeau police Sgt. Don Perry.

According to the probable-cause affidavit, the tenant, Tamara M. Cobb, told police that Wyatt, an ex-boyfriend, came to her residence intoxicated around 2:30 a.m. wanting to continue their relationship. When she said no, Cobb said Wyatt began to "tear things up" and threatened to start the residence on fire.

Cobb said she saw Wyatt set the bed on fire with a lighter and then she left the apartment to go outside and call police. Another person inside the apartment at the time said she also saw Wyatt set the mattress on fire.

Also in the affidavit, Richard Lyke, a firefighter with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, confirmed for police that there were two points of origin for the fire, one being the bedroom mattress.

Damages to the basement apartment were estimated at between $10,000 and $12,000.

Wyatt has numerous convictions in Cape Girardeau County, including driving with a revoked license in 2002 and 2007, resisting arrest in 2004 and misdemeanor assault in 2000.

For his most recent conviction, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, Wyatt was sentenced to 120 days' shock incarceration and granted release in October. He's currently serving five years of supervised probation.

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

721 N. Middle St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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