Michael Grimes Hid in Ex-Boyfriend's Closet, Set Apartment Building on Fire: Sentenced

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click to enlarge Michael Grimes, 51.
Michael Grimes, 51.

Michael Grimes, the man who police say broke into his ex-boyfriend's St. Louis apartment, threatened to shoot him, then returned later and set the property on fire, has been sentenced to 25 years.

On August 4, 2011, Grimes, now 51, called up his ex-boyfriend and threatened to hurt him, St. Louis prosecutors recount in the sentencing announcement this week. When his ex arrived home to the Lindell Park Apartments from work later that day, he saw that his front door had been busted open.

Grimes was hiding in the closet.

Grimes, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office says, pretended that he had a weapon and threatened to shoot him.

He left and the ex, identified as D.J., went to a friend's house for the night.

But Grimes returned that day -- and this time did a lot more than bust through a door.

Police say he started a fire in a closet where D.J. had stored "handmade garments with sentimental value." The blaze quickly spread and became a three-alarm fire in the 100-unit building.

Lindell Park Apartments. - via
Lindell Park Apartments.

Firefighters rescued one neighbor who had cancer and was overcome by the smoke. He was hospitalized in a coma and on life support for four days. Although he was eventually discharged, prosecutors say he couldn't return home and had to move into an assisted-living facility.

The trial against Grimes went forward in June, with several witnesses testifying that they saw him during the first break-in -- and when he was fleeing the apartment just before the fire was discovered. As we reported, a jury convicted him of first-degree arson, first-degree burglary and third-degree assault.

Prosecutors recommended a life sentence for the charges, but St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Dennis Schaumann sentenced Grimes to 25 years for first-degree arson, 25 years for first-degree burglary and ten days for third-degree assault this week. The sentences will run concurrently.

Under state law, he must serve 85 percent of the sentence, though an offender who reaches the age of 70 and has served at least 40 percent of a sentence can be eligible for parole, the circuit attorney's office explains.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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