Dog helps nab arson suspect

Published 1:56 pm Thursday, January 30, 2020

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Man charged for trying to burn girlfriend’s home

COLUMBUS—A Columbus man was arrested Monday morning after his dog took deputies to his location hiding in the woods. 

The dog, Apollo, was named as an honorary K-9 for the sheriff’s office for his help in the arrest. 

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Fire departments responded to a structure fire at approximately 8:25 a.m. Monday to 411 Hugh Champion Road near Columbus. Arson investigators from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded and conducted an investigation. Investigators believed the suspect was hiding in a wooded area close to the house. Deputies noticed Apollo on an old roadbed and followed the dog to the suspect. 

Meko Lockee, 36, was arrested and charged with second-degree arson, breaking and entering and larceny for Monday’s incidences, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer J.J. Sauve said Wednesday morning that Lockee was arrested on Jan. 23 for first-degree kidnapping, assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, larceny of a motor vehicle, larceny, communicating threats and later charged with failure to appear in court. 

Sauve said Lockee’s Jan. 23 arrest stemmed from a dispute at the same residence with the same victim. Lockee is accused of putting the victim in the car, attacking her in the vehicle and attempting to leave with her in the vehicle. The victim escaped, Sauve said, ran to a neighbor’s house and called 911. 

In the early morning hours of Monday, the victim called 911 again saying Lockee was sending her messages saying he was coming to her house. A local fire department drone was used with thermal imaging to search for Lockee in the woods. A sheriff’s office deputy paid for the victim to stay in a hotel, Sauve said, and she came back to the house once she was told her house was on fire. 

Lockee was arrested and charged Monday morning and taken into custody without incident. 

He is still being held at the Polk County Detention Center under a $104,000 bond.