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Suspect in Parkersburg arson case facing multiple charges

Merluzzi appears in Indiana court

Ryan P. Merluzzi

PARKERSBURG — A Parkersburg man allegedly involved in arson and larceny is being held by authorities in Indiana following his arrest earlier this week.

The Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office in Greenfield, Ind., reported that Ryan P. Merluzzi, 28, of Core Road, Parkersburg, had an initial hearing Thursday on charges filed by the Greenfield Police Department and entered a not guilty plea. His bond was set at $5,000 cash on those charges and he was also being held on warrants for West Virginia.

Locally, Merluzzi faces charges of first-degree arson, entry of a building other than a dwelling, grand larceny and destruction of property. The charges stem from a fire Monday evening that involved two mobile homes on Core Road in Parkersburg.

He is also a suspect in a break-in at a Northwestern Pike business in which a parked vehicle was damaged and a dump truck was stolen Monday evening.

The case is under investigation by the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Parkersburg Police Department.

Merluzzi was arrested Tuesday in Indiana by the Greenfield Police Department on several charges and was booked into the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department jail.

Deputy Chief Charles McMichael, with the Greenfield Police Department, reported Thursday that Merluzzi was arrested by Greenfield Police in the early morning hours of Tuesday.

McMichaels said Merluzzi was allegedly involved in a road rage incident on Interstate 70, leading to the contact. A 911 caller reported that a vehicle, later found driven by Merluzzi, struck their vehicle on I-70 in Hancock County. The caller reported that the suspect vehicle exited the interstate into a rest area just outside of Greenfield.

An officer watching for the vehicle located it on I-70 a short time later. While following the vehicle, the suspect slammed on their brakes and the officer activated his emergency lights and the vehicle pulled to the side of the roadway, McMichaels said.

The driver, later identified as Merluzzi, was acting very strangely, McMichaels reported. He was detained while officers investigated. The vehicle was discovered to be stolen from West Virginia. While conducting a search of the vehicle, officers located three long guns in the back seat. The three guns were also found to be stolen from West Virginia. While searching the vehicle, officers noted the vehicle smelled of smoke, he said.

The investigating officer was able to make contact with an officer from Parkersburg, who advised that Merluzzi was the suspect in an arson and theft investigation.

McMichaels said Merluzzi was arrested at the scene and has been charged with: theft of a firearm, Level 5 Felony; auto theft, Level 6 Felony; unlawful possession of a firearm by a dangerous person, Class A Misdemeanor; possession of a controlled substance, Class A Misdemeanor; possession of paraphernalia, Class C Misdemeanor; and reckless driving, Class C Misdemeanor.

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