The Pryor Times

Crimes and courts

June 6, 2013

Arson charges follow domestic dispute

A Disney man is facing a felony charge of second degree arson following a domestic dispute at a campground in Spavinaw.

Richard Lee McElroy, 49, was arrested at the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office after questioning by Deputy Tammy Steddum Ward.

“Mr. McElroy was camping in Spavinaw at the Copper Head Rally Camp Grounds with his girlfriend last weekend when an apparant verbal domestic situation occurred,” Ward said. The girlfriend, Carleah Lancaster, left the travel trailer and hid from McElroy, according to reports.

“He began calling her phone and leaving threatening voicemails,” Ward said, adding that she listened to the saved voice messages. Witnesses said McElroy left the area for a short time, then returned.

“He left her a voicemail stating that if she didn’t come back to the camper that he was going to burn it down,” Ward said.

When Lancaster remained hidden, McElroy set fire to the camper, an act that was witnessed by camp security.

Ward said an officer had gone to the camper to retrieve Lancaster’s wallet and saw the flames. The officer called 911 and then began to wake and alert campers nearby.

McElroy fled the scene, but was located by deputies later at his residence and informed that he needed to come in for questioning.

According to Ward, McElroy showed up at the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office and was questioned.

“He never would admit anything,” she said. “He said he never had a lighter, however, the witness stated he used a book of matches.”

The fire marshal confirmed arson and said the fire started exactly where the witness said he’d seen McElroy at the time the fire began. The fire began on the bed.

“With the witness statements, the evidence and the phone messages, he was arrested,” Ward said.

Two vehicles and four other camping trailers sustained minor damages due to the heat from the fire.

McElroy was charged with second degree arson and is out on a $100,000 bond. He is to have no contact with the victim and is scheduled to appear again in court on July 11 at 9:30 a.m.

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Crimes and courts