Arrest made in meth-related fire

A Brownstown man has been arrested in connection with a methamphetamine explosion last year that led to a house fire.

Keith Warnock, 40, was arrested Sunday on a Jackson Circuit Court warrant on a charge of dealing in methamphetamine with an explosion enhancement, a Level 2 felony. He also was arrested on Level 6 felony charges of auto theft and resisting law enforcement, and misdemeanor charges of resisting law enforcement and possession of paraphernalia.

He also faces a charge of driving while suspended with a previous conviction.

The warrant, issued Dec. 8 by Jackson Circuit Judge Richard W. Poynter, stemmed from an investigation by Indiana State Police and the Office of the State Fire Marshal, according to Jeff Chalfant, Jackson County chief deputy prosecutor.

The case involved a home at 500 W. Spring St. in Brownstown that was destroyed by fire Sept. 7. The investigation showed the fire occurred because someone was cooking meth, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Warnock’s wife, Jill Warnock, was asleep at the time of the fire but woke up to the flames. She tried to put out the fire with what she thought was water, according to the affidavit. The liquid actually was a chemical, which caused an explosion, leaving Jill Warnock with severe burns. She was treated at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis and was released.

On Sunday, Keith Warnock was arrested following a high-speed chase through the northwest part of the county, according to a news release from Officer Rick Meyer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

The incident began about 10 p.m. when Seymour police investigated a report of a stolen maroon 2002 GMC with a broken taillight, which was taken from a residence in the 300 block of East Sixth Street in Seymour.

Meyer said he was sitting in the parking lot of a business on the east side of Freetown when he saw a vehicle matching the description of the stolen vehicle being driven west on State Road 58.

He said he activated his lights, but the driver sped up. The driver headed west on county roads, eventually working his way back to State Road 58 to Norman, where he turned south. The chase, which reached a top speed of 80 mph, ended when the driver lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree in the 10000 block of County Road 400N, west of Clearspring.

Meyer said the driver left the vehicle and ran. He was caught about 50 yards away and was arrested.

A 26-year-old passenger in the vehicle complained of pain and was taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Meyer said. She was later released.

Drug paraphernalia was found during a search of Warnock and the vehicle, Meyer said.

No officers were injured during the pursuit, and Meyer said the investigation is ongoing and more charges could follow.

Keith Warnock already was scheduled for a jury trial March 3 on separate criminal charges following a police chase three months ago, according to court documents. He was out of jail after posting a bond of $20,005 on Nov 13.

Warnock was being held without bond Monday at the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown pending his initial hearing.