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Thief River Falls man charged with trying to light son, dirt bike and tractor on fire

Michael Roy Nelson

THIEF RIVER FALLS -- A Thief River Falls man is facing three felonies after police said he tried to set a tractor, a dirt bike and his son on fire.

Michael Roy Nelson, 45, was charged Monday in Pennington County District Court with two felony counts of second-degree attempted arson, a felony second-degree assault charge and a misdemeanor count of domestic assault.

The charges stem from when a Pennington County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a Thief River Falls residence after the department received two calls around 3 a.m. Sunday.

When a deputy arrived, Nelson said it was “a domestic dispute,” but witnesses told the deputy  Nelson had become angry after a disagreement with family members about a loan given to his juvenile son to purchase a dirt bike, according to a criminal complaint.

Witness said Nelson tipped over the dirt bike in the back of a truck, took the gas cap off the dirt bike and attempted to light it on fire with a match.

They said he also attempted to start a tractor on fire by putting a gas can in the cab of the tractor, lighting a book of matches on fire and setting it on top of the gas can.

Witnesses explained Nelson had taken a can of ether and lit it with a match, spraying it toward his son, which lit the front of his son’s sweatshirt on fire, according to the criminal complaint.

Nelson is also accused of dragging his father, who uses a wheelchair, out of bed and down the hallway, leaving the man with a “pretty large rug burn.”

On Monday, Judge Kurt J. Marben ordered that Nelson cannot enter the victim's’ residence nor have contact with the victims.

Nelson faces a maximum sentence of 17 years and three months in prison and a $25,000 fine for all four charges.

His next court appearance is at 1 p.m. Monday.

Becky Jacobs

Becky Jacobs is the crime and courts reporter for the Herald.

(701) 780-1134
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