Warsaw Man Facing Intimidation Charge After Alleged Threats

("Jail Cells" by My Southborough, CC BY-ND 2.0)

A man is facing charges after allegedly threatening to burn down a business and the employees’ homes after a dispute over an impounded vehicle.

Matthew Gene Rhines, 30, of 1621 W. Briaridge Road, Warsaw, and also showing an address of 3898 S. Viking Drive, Mentone, was booked in the Kosciusko County Jail at 6:28 p.m. Dec. 22 and faces a Level 6 felony intimidation charge.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed Sept. 29 in Kosciusko Superior Court II, on Sept. 5 Warsaw police were called by the owner of Crouse Body Shop about threats being made by Rhines.

Upon arrival, police learned that Crouse’s had been dealing with Rhines for several months over an impounded vehicle and items left in the vehicle.

On June 6, Claypool police requested that Crouse tow a Cadillac due to suspended driver and false or fictitious registration. After 30 days, Crouse Body Shop filed for the title paperwork to obtain ownership of the car due to no one claiming the vehicle, according to the affidavit.

After the title was approved, Rhines contacted Crouse’s and wanted the tires off the car that he had purchased. Employees allegedly told Rhines that since he didn’t have any proof of ownership, he could come and exchange the tires for $250.

Rhines then allegedly called the business several times about the tires but never came to exchange them until after the car had already been sent away to be scrapped, according to court papers.

Crouse’s was able to get the car back from the scrapyard so Rhines could exchange the tires, and he did, court papers state.

Following the tire exchange, an unknown person called Crouse’s and asked if there were golf clubs left in the vehicle. Employees told the caller the car had been cleaned out and scrapped and there were no golf clubs.

On Sept. 5, Rhines phoned the business and was extremely upset, according to court papers, and asked directly about the golf clubs. When Rhines too was told there were no golf clubs, Rhines allegedly threatened to burn down Crouse Body Shop and all of the employees’ homes as well.

Rhines further went on to trash the business online and threaten anyone who may have his golf clubs, according to the affidavit, by writing that someone employed by the business stole his property and “a message for all of you that were involved in … the theft of my personal belongings, see you soon!”

Rhines’ bond was set at $5,250.