Kokomo woman facing arson, burglary charges

Jan. 24—A Kokomo woman has been arrested after she burglarized and then set fire to a business last month near downtown, according to police.

Michelle "Shelly" Ellis, 49, faces charges of arson, a Level 4 felony, and burglary, a Level 5 felony.

Police were called to Averhealth, 303 N. Main St., about 7 p.m. Dec. 28, a Kokomo Police Department media release stated.

During the investigation, authorities watched a surveillance video that showed a white sedan, possibly a Toyota, entering the rear parking area of the business, according to the release.

The video then showed movement inside the business and an unidentified woman — later determined by police to be Ellis — exiting the building through a rear window and slowly driving around to the front of the building.

In the video, the woman then drove into a parking lot across the street from Averhealth before eventually exiting and parking near the intersection of Mulberry and Main streets, police stated in the release.

The woman then exited the vehicle and walked to the front of Averhealth, investigators noted, before walking back to the sedan.

At some point afterward, the building caught fire, which was contained and extinguished prior to the arrival of the Kokomo Fire Department, according to the media release.

On Jan. 7, investigators received an anonymous email tip that Ellis had burglarized Averhealth and started the fire.

At the time of the incident, Ellis was an employee of Averhealth, according to a probable cause affidavit filed through the Howard County Clerk's Office.

She was also the owner of a white Toyota Corolla like the one that appeared at the scene the night of the fire, according to court documents.

On Jan. 9, Ellis met with investigators for an interview, court records indicate. Reportedly, she told investigators she was "shocked" to hear the news that someone had burglarized Averhealth.

As the interview went on, Ellis confessed, according to court records.

"Ms. Ellis stated the night she burglarized Averhealth, she was at home alone and stated she was short on money," the probable cause affidavit reported. "... I asked her if breaking into Averhealth was something she had planned to do or even thought about. She said a couple of months ago, she admitted that she thought to herself how easy it would be to break in."

Ellis also, reportedly, told investigators she started the fire with a Bic lighter and a box of paper, cone-shaped water cups and she "staged" the back window to look like someone else had broken into the building, according to court records.

Ellis was held Tuesday at the Howard County Jail on $25,000 cash bond. A pretrial conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. April 20 in Howard Superior Court II.