Man accused of torching stolen vehicle in Cedar Rapids

Incident happened on Edgewood Road bridge

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A Benton County man faces a felony charge after authorities say he intentionally started a stolen car on fire in Cedar Rapids.

Robert R. Mikesell, 32, of Luzerne, has been charged with second-degree arson after the fire on the Edgewood Road bridge over the Cedar River. Police said they were dispatched there around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 when the vehicle got stuck in the snow and was on fire. Firefighters extinguished the flames and police realized the car had been stolen from a location in Vinton.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said Mikesell had been with the vehicle when he stopped a woman who was driving by, got into her car and said "drive." The woman took Mikesell to Hy-Vee, 5050 Edgewood Rd. NE, and dropped him off. The woman then called police, feeling threatened. Hamblin said Mikesell did not make any threats during the trip and the woman was not harmed. Officers found Mikesell at the grocery store and arrested him there.

According to a criminal complaint, the fire caused more than $500 damage to the car.

Vinton Police Chief Jeff Tilson said no charges have been filed related to the stolen vehicle, as investigators continue to work the case. Cedar Rapids Fire Investigator Al Brockhohn declined to comment Friday about the cause of the fire.

Mikesell, who has past convictions for burglary, forgery and drug possession, was convicted of operating a vehicle without the owner's consent in Washington County last month. He remained at the Linn County Jail on Friday in lieu of $25,000 cash bond.

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