0

Alleged North Carolina arsonist jailed in Clayton County

A Florida man is being held without bond in the Clayton County Jail, as authorities investigate a suspected arson at his North Carolina vacation home. The blaze on Feb. 13, nearly killed his disabled wife, police said.

Clayton County Sheriff's Lt. Brian Crisp said Anthony "Tony" Joseph Michalik, Jr., 49, of Naples, Fla., is charged with lying to investigators. Michalik is wanted by the Graham County, N.C., Sheriff's Office in connection with a 2 a.m., fire that burned his vacation home to the ground.

His disabled wife, Patricia, narrowly escaped the fire by crawling out of a second story window, said police. Their family dog, Sandy, died at the scene. When Patricia Michalik made her escape, she saw that the rental car driven by her husband was gone.

A GPS tracking of Tony Michalik's phone traced him to the Garden Walk Apartments, in Riverdale, said Crisp. Investigators spotted Michalik about 8 p.m., on Feb. 14, exiting from Apartment 1010 and removing items from his car. A search warrant was executed for the apartment and car, and Michalik reportedly agreed to speak to Clayton sheriff's investigators.

It was during this interview, Crisp said, that Michalik lied to investigators about where he was when the fire broke out. "He said for several days he'd been with a stripper he met at Pink Pony South," Crisp said. "Well, we knew that was a lie because the Pink Pony has been closed for several months."

Phone records also pinpoint Michalik being at the North Carolina home at the time of the fire, according to arrest warrants filed in Clayton County Magistrate Court.

He was denied bond during his first appearance hearing, because he is considered a flight risk, stated the warrants. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Feb. 23. Crisp said Michalik's belongings are undergoing testing at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for trace evidence that could link him to the suspected arson.

According to Florida court records, Michalik was arrested in August for violation of probation and reckless driving.

In June 2010, the Michaliks lost a son, Danny Michalik, in a water skiing accident while he practiced a trick with the Southern Extreme Water Ski Show team in the lake near Miromar Outlet Mall in Estero, Fla. The 19-year-old, his dad and brother, Josh, then 18, had been part of the ski team for nine years.

According to news reports, the boat pulling Danny Michalik collided with an oncoming boat. The teenager died after suffering internal injuries.