State police at Indiana said a Wheeling, W.Va., man was busy during the 10 hours he was on the loose a week ago, after troopers arrested him for assaulting and strangling his girlfriend at a home along Zehner Lane in Armstrong Township.
According to court records, Eric Tyrone Flanary, 23, is in Indiana County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond, awaiting a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts, ranging from strangulation to arson.
According to a state police news release Saturday, the 22-year-old woman, also from West Virginia, said her boyfriend, Flanary, bit her right arm and strangled her with his hands, resulting in a visible bite mark on her right bicep and bruising on her legs and neck area.
After that, state police apprehended Flanary and placed him under arrest for domestic assault, handcuffing him behind his back.
However, troopers said, as he was being placed inside a patrol unit, Flanary escaped their custody and fled on foot into a wooded area.
An Indiana state police spokesman said troopers gave chase, but lost sight of Flanary due to the thickness of the woods. Trooper Cliff Greenfield said he was on the loose from about 12:35 a.m. until about 10:31 a.m. on Oct. 13, setting two fires, one apparently to remove a handcuff, and stealing an electric bike.
As additional patrol units responded, Greenfield said a perimeter was established and a helicopter arrived to assist with the search for Flanary. This search was met with negative results.
According to the state police report about his arrest, Flanary made three stops, setting fire to a shed at 770 Trim Tree Road and a steel barn located off Trim Tree Road, then stealing an electric bike from a garage at 6510 Route 422 Highway West, apparently with the intention of using it to return to West Virginia.
At approximately 9:15 a.m., a woman called the state police Troop A, Indiana station and advised that her shed at 770 Trim Tree Road was on fire.
Greenfield said troopers responded to that location and discovered that forced entry was made into the shed and a small fire, which damaged the floor, had been started inside it. He said a handcuff that appeared to have been cut with bolt cutters was also found inside the shed.
Indiana Fire Association also had its volunteers on the scene. Assistant Chief Ron Moreau said that fire already was out when his crews arrived, but that there was a hole in the floor.
Just over half an hour later, Greenfield said, as a state police Aviation Unit was searching the area, the pilot observed that a nearby barn was on fire, just off Trim Tree Road.
Greenfield said patrol units responded and discovered that another small fire had been started inside the steel barn. Troopers then used fire extinguishers from their patrol units to gain control of the fire until the arrival of Indiana Fire Association units.
Moreau said the fire was “low key, very minor.” The property owner reported that the fire had caused damage to eight to ten hay bales and a bale holder.
Greenfield said state police fire marshals were able to confirm that Flanary intentionally set both fires with a lighter he found inside the shed in order to keep himself warm.
The barn owner also reported to state police that an electric bike located in his garage at 6510 Route 422 Highway West, Armstrong Township, had been moved.
Troopers said Flanary was found in that garage and taken into custody without incident.
After his capture, Flanary was arraigned before Blairsville Magisterial District Judge Jennifer J. Rega on two first-degree felony counts of arson, three second-degree felony counts of burglary, a second-degree felony count of strangulation and a third-degree felony count of escape.
He also was charged with misdemeanor counts, including two each of criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking, and one count apiece of resisting arrest and harassment.
Rega placed Flanary in Indiana County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing on Wednesday at 11:10 a.m.
Greenfield said others assisting with the investigation include the Pennsylvania Game Commission, state police patrol units from Greensburg and Kittanning, and state police aviation, forensic services and fire marshal units.