Man arrested on arson charge

Days before a man was spotted outside a Greenwood home right before it caught fire, he sent a threatening letter to the resident — his ex, police said.

The letter from Rodney Morris referred to himself as cold-blooded with a temper and said he wished his ex was dead, according to the police report.

Less than a week later, a resident on East Pearl Street spotted a man outside a home moments before it caught fire. When he confronted him, the man left, the report said.

The resident soon after noticed the home was on fire, and used water to put the flames out. The small fire caused about $1,000 to $2,000 in damage, the report said.

The neighbor gave police a license plate number for the vehicle the man was driving, which is the plate number for Morris’ vehicle. Morris also matched the description the neighbor gave, the report said. The resident also told police Morris could have started the fire, since the two had recently broken up, and Morris had made threats, the report said.

Morris, 52, Indianapolis, was charged with arson earlier this year, and was arrested on a warrant this week.

Fire investigators found two spots where a fire was set at the home, including a piece of the frame of the home, where the neighbor put out the flames. A second spot, at the back door of the home, had burned out, the report said.

The fire was set on Aug. 3, and investigators had to test some of the items found near where the blaze started, including paper and cardboard. Once lab test results came back, they showed that a petroleum product, such as motor oil, was on the items tested, the report said. Investigators had previously searched Morris’ vehicle and found an empty oil container inside, the report said.

Morris told police he did stop by the Greenwood home the night of the fire to get water for his vehicle, which was overheating. He had a letter for his ex in his pocket, and told police that letter must have fallen out of his pocket and been set on fire when he discarded a cigarette, the report said.

Morris, 3512 Mountain Laurel Place, Unit B, was arrested and taken to the Johnson County jail, where he was held on $1,200 bond.

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.