Man facing arson charges in tent, park shelter fire at Madison park, police say

Kerry Meighan

MADISON, Wis. — A Madison man is facing tentative arson charges after police say he lit a tent on fire at a city park Friday.

The Madison Police Department said three people, who are homeless, spent the morning setting up a tent they had just received next to the James Madison Park shelter.

According to the report, 49-year-old Kerry Meighan showed up to the park in the morning and sat on a bench nearby while the victims were setting things up and arranging their belongings.

The three who set up their tent — two 36-year-old women and a 31-year-old man — left around noon while Meighan remained on the bench, police said.

Less than an hour later, Meighan walked over to the tent and leaned into it for a few seconds before going into the restroom, then returning to the tent briefly again before walking away, according to the report. Less than a minute later, the tent and everything in it went up in flames, which also started the park shelter on fire and caused significant damage to it.

Police said Meighan was identified as a suspect, arrested and taken to the Dane County Jail on tentative charges of arson of buildings, arson of property other than a building and on a warrant out of La Crosse County.