Tips lead to arrest of neighbor 10 months after suspicious fires begin
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Ten months after the fires in Glenridge began, police have arrested a 31-year-old man, a neighbor of the victims, and charged him with arson.
Cornelius police arrested Robert “Bobby” Prevatte, Friday, Sept. 16, and charged him with two counts of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson, and two counts of burning personal property, police said. Neighbors said they feared the man who had a flame tattooed on one arm.
Cornelius Lt. Jennifer Thompson said investigators received a tip that led them to Prevatte. She said she was unsure of any motives or how the homes that were burned were chosen.
Neighbors have had mixed feelings about the arrest.
“We’re all very happy that it’s done and over, and we’ll sleep better now,” Nancy Knowles said. Knowles, whose home was one of those allegedly burned by Prevatte, told WBTV, the Herald Weekly’s news partner, she was comforted by the arrest.
Others, however, still were terrified after the months of seemingly random fires that overtook the neighborhood along Washam Potts Road.
“My kids were so scared for a month, they kept asking me, will you leave the lights on?” one neighbor said, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
“I was so happy to be here,” she continued. “But once the fires started, it turned into a nightmare. Now we are planning to move out of this neighborhood.”
The first fire was reported in December 2010 when someone set ablaze a wicker chair on a home’s front porch on Meadow Crossing Lane in the Glenridge neighborhood. That fire was quickly put out with minimal damage to the home.
Around the time of the first fire, neighbors said Prevatte had been staying with his brother, who lived in that neighborhood.
Sometime earlier this year, Prevatte moved into his 10245 Meadow Crossing home with his girlfriend and her four children.
On April 8, two homes were destroyed and two others were damaged less than a block away after a fire started in a trashcan outside the home at 10250 Meadow Crossing Lane and quickly spread. Investigators originally said the blaze began after a mixture of cleaning chemicals in the trash can “spontaneously” burst into flames. No injuries were reported in that fire, but both homes were total losses.
On May 31, a fire gutted a house at 10211 Meadow Crossing Lane around 1:30 a.m. after police believed someone set fire to some debris on the back porch. The home was a total loss, but there were no injuries.
The home at 10250 Meadow Crossing Lane was again set on fire last month, as the frame was still standing from the previous arson attempt.
Although an arrest has been made, police are still soliciting tips as investigators suspect he may be responsible for other fires in other states. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773.
Prevatte is being held in Mecklenburg County Jail on $210,000 secured bond, according to the jail log.