Melanie Vangel '18 arrested for arson

by Erin Lee | 7/21/16 6:43pm

Melanie Vangel ’18 was arrested in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on July 17 in connection to a vehicle fire. She was arrested by state fire marshals for two charges of arson and one charge of theft by unauthorized use of property.

Sgt. Joel Davis , who works in the fire marshal’s office and is investigating the case, said the office believes that Vangel stole a van, a 2014 Chrysler Town & Country, from Rockport, Maine either late Friday night or early Saturday morning. She allegedly drove it through New Hampshire, ending in Cape Elizabeth, where she set the car on fire, according to a press release. The van was destroyed and a neighboring garage sustained several thousand dollars in damage. Vangel was arrested late Saturday night.

Vangel is currently in custody at the Cumberland County jail and has not posted bail. Her bail is set at $5,060 in cash, Cumberland County jail intake officer Erik Moody said.

Davis said his office is finishing up interviews in the almost completed investigation. The fire marshall’s office will present its information to the state district attorney’s office, which will determine whether additional charges will be added and how the case will be prosecuted, he said.

Moody said the process typically takes four to six weeks.

Cape Elizabeth police and Rockport police were also involved in the investigation, though they referred comment to the Maine fire marshal’s office.

Arson is a Class A charge in Maine, the most serious classification, and can be punishable by up to 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

The Maine Fire Marshal’s office investigates about 400 to 500 fires per year, about half of which are arson-related, Davis said. They investigate every case to the end, though only about a few dozen are actually prosecuted, he said. Some cases never make it to formal court, he noted.

Vangel had previously been arrested on June 16 for stealing a dog from an animal shelter in Pittsford, Vt. Vangel and two others were planning to attend the Rainbow Family of Living Light, an egalitarian and pro-peace group, in the Green Mountain National Forest. The dog, named Fred, was returned to the shelter later that evening after a six-hour journey. Vangel was charged with a misdemeanor count of petit larceny.

Moody said Vangel had her initial court appearance earlier this week, though her next court date has not been set.

In a prior interview with The Dartmouth in June, Vangel said she would probably return to Dartmouth but had no plans to do so at the time.

Dartmouth’s standards of conduct state that students found guilty of a legal infraction in any local, state or federal jurisdiction will be subject to disciplinary action at the College.

Vangel was on the women’s varsity soccer team, but departed at the conclusion of last season.

Women’s soccer head coach Ronald Rainey confirmed that Vangel is no longer a member of the team. He declined to comment further.

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