Downtown Jordan security camera footage from March 12 shows a red 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt sedan engulfed in flames, the result of a suspected arson, local authorities said.
The suspect, Nicholas Joseph Johnson, 39, of Burnsville, could face up to a 10-year sentence and $20,000 in fines if convicted.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Scott Country District Court, police were called to the scene of the fire, 205 Broadway St. S, a little after 11 p.m. on March 12. They were able to put the fire out, and no injuries were reported.
The owner of the vehicle said she had purchased a new vehicle and had left the sedan parked on the street for some time. She told officers she suspected Johnson, her ex-boyfriend, set fire to her vehicle, the complaint said.
Since she and Johnson broke up in February, a month prior to the incident, there were multiple occasions of suspicious damage to the vehicle, including deflated tires, loosened lug nuts and some tampering with vehicle fluids, according to the complaint.
Johnson, an automobile mechanic, had also allegedly sent her multiple texts regarding the car since their breakup, including “You should get a new vehicle” and “I just can’t walk away.” On March 9 he texted her to ask if she had full coverage on the vehicle. On March 12 he sent a photo of her other vehicle in the rain with the window partially rolled down with the message “dummy left window down.”
The owner of the car, Johnson’s ex-girlfriend, is in the process of getting a restraining order against him, the complaint said.
As noted in the complaint, she told officers Johnson has called her 5-6 times every day since the breakup, and on the day of the car fire she ignored a call from Johnson.
State Fire Marshall Ron Rahman told investigators he believed the incident to be an arson due to the fact the glass was blown out from the car rather than melting in. The presence of gasoline was also detected in the floorboards of the car, which Rahman said would explain the explosion.
Johnson’s employer was contacted and it was confirmed that he frequently drove a blue 2001 Honda Civic. Ring doorbell footage from the Nicolin Mansion Inn across the street from the incident allegedly showed an exact match to the description of Johnson’s car driving in the area on the same night.
He was arrested on March 27 for violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) against the same victim, and officers obtained a search warrant for the contents of his cell phone.
Cell tower data from Johnson’s phone showed he was in the area on the night of the incident, though he stated he was not.
When Johnson was interviewed by police, he told officers the victim was crazy and trying to get him in trouble.
He previously commented to his employer that “if I destroyed her car that would only help her. She has full coverage on it, and it would get her out of car payments.”
A check of state records showed Johnson has two pending HRO cases involving the same victim.
Johnson’s first court date has yet to be set.