GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A man suspected of setting a barn fire that killed 13 horses in western Michigan has been arraigned on charges of third-degree arson and killing or torturing animals.
Kent County prosecutors say 20-year-old Payton Mellema was arraigned Friday.
Only two of 15 horses survived the April 8 Lowell-area fire. The horses were used as therapy for children and young adults with a variety of special needs. Mellema lived nearby.
Investigators wrote in a probable cause affidavit that Mellema said Thursday that “he gained access to the barn and chained the doors closed. He then used an accelerant and started a small fire in the hayloft that got out of control.”
Mellema has been jailed since May on a charge of violating probation. It wasn’t clear whether he has an attorney.