Suspect arrested in Cockey's Tavern fire

Man, 29, lives down the street from site, held on $100,000 bail

April 07, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A 29-year-old Westminster man who lives down the street from Cockey's Tavern was arrested late Wednesday in the arson last month at the historic restaurant.

Clarence E. Mullinix of the 200 block of E. Main St. was held overnight in lieu of $10,000 bail at the county jail after he was charged with one count of arson, court records show.

District Judge Marc G. Rasinsky raised the bail to $100,000 at a review hearing yesterday after Brian DeLeonardo, the county's special arson prosecutor, said that Mullinix is suspected in other unspecified arsons and is considered a danger to the community.

According to a document prepared by Sarina Hart, a deputy state fire marshal, witnesses had seen Mullinix at the tavern at 216 E. Main St. on March 8, the night the fire was set. Hart's report said Mullinix was interviewed twice. Mullinix lives with his parents in the same block as the restaurant.

The damage to Cockey's Tavern, a portion of which was built in 1790, was estimated at $150,000.

According to fire marshals and arson investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Cockey's Tavern fire started outside the rear door of the building and spread to three levels.

The fire destroyed a stove, freezer and food in the rear of the building, but much of the damage was caused by smoke and water.

Court records show Mullinix was convicted of battery in 1995. He was given credit for time served and the balance of a one-year sentence was suspended. He completed three years of probation.

DeLeonardo said Mullinix did not appear to have any connection to Cockey's Tavern or its owners. It does not appear the arson was directed at any individual or business, he said.

Westminster has at least two unresolved cases of arson.

One was a December fire that destroyed the Goodwill store on West Main Street, a loss estimated at $250,000. A garage at Ralph Street and Winters Alley was discovered ablaze two hours after the Cockey's Tavern fire. The loss was estimated at $10,000.

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