Weather Forecast


Democrat Doug Jones declared winner over Roy Moore

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