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CorneliusNews.net: Charges Dropped, Glenridge Arson Suspect Freed

Robert Prevatte.

Prevatte After almost 2 months in Mecklenburg County Jail, the primary suspect in a series of arson fires in Cornelius over the past year was freed Monday after the Mecklenburg District Attorney dropped the charges against him. Robert Joseph Prevatte, 31, was arrested Sept. 16 as police investigated a series of arson fires on Meadow Crossing Lane in the Glenridge neighborhood, where he was living with his girlfriend. Mr. Prevatte had been charged with two counts of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson and two counts of burning personal property, and was being held in Mecklenburg County Jail on $210,000 secured bond. At the time of his arrest, there was "plenty of evidence for probable cause," Cornelius Police Detective Lt. Jennifer L. Thompson said, and he was indicted. But the District Attorney's office now does not believe there is enough evidence to pursue a successful trial at this time, she said. "We totally support their decision at this time," she said, "but the case is still ongoing," and detectives will continue to investigate, as police still consider him a suspect. Det. Thompson also said neighborhood residents should continue to keep an eye out. "Even when he was in jail, we still advised people to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings," she said. News of his release hit Glenridge neighbors hard Tuesday. Mr. Prevatte will not be returning to the neighborhood, as a new family now is renting the house he used to live in, but neighbors still are worried they may see another fire and plan to bolster neighborhood watch. Police on Tuesday morning were not sure of where Mr. Prevatte might be staying, but said he remains in contact with the woman with whom he used to live on Meadow Crossing Lane. Police are looking into her whereabouts, and believe she may be living in Davidson. Cornelius Police already have talked to Davidson Police, who are aware of the situation, Lt. Thompson said. RELATED LINK Sept. 16, 2011, "Neighbor charged with setting Glenridge fires."