Suspect charged in multiple Royal Oak fires dating back to 2015

Accused arsonist facing charges has criminal history

Thomas Manes. (WDIV)

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The City of Royal Oak has experienced a series of arson fires, mostly car fires, within a small radius in a northeastern section of the city since 2015.  

Starting in November 2015, three suspicious vehicle fires were reported, along with two other fires in December 2015. 

During that period, InStyle Cabinets, located at 4300 Rochester Road, was severely damaged by fire and investigators discovered evidence it was related to an early morning break-in in which a firearm and electronics were taken. A family sleeping in an attached business next to the fire escaped without injury.

During summer 2018, three reported vehicle fires occurred that were similar to the vehicle fires in 2015. A person of interest was identified early in the investigation -- however a lack of sufficient evidence hampered efforts to obtain charges.

Since November 2015, there have been a total 13 reported fires which investigators have suspected were intentionally set.

On June 2 at 4:46 a.m., Royal Oak officers and firefighters responded to a 911 call about a shed and garage on fire behind a home in the 700 block of Whitcomb. The fire was extinguished but a small shed was destroyed and the garage suffered significant damage. Detectives and fire investigators responded to the scene due to the suspicious nature of the fire. No injuries were reported in the incident.

On June 4 members of the Royal Oak Police Criminal Investigation Division and Special Investigation Unit located and arrested the 33-year-old suspect at his apartment in Troy.

“We are extremely pleased to finally bring this crime spree to an end. The midnight shift officers and investigators put countless hours into finding the person responsible. The police department utilized cutting edge technology to investigate this case, but in the end, it was solved with good old fashioned police work. I can’t speak highly enough of the efforts of our officers and detectives,” said Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue.

On Friday, Thomas Manes, formerly of Royal Oak, was arraigned before Magistrate Donald Chisholm of the 44th District Court on multiple charges related to the suspicious fires dating back to 2015.

Manes is charged with:

• Two counts of second-degree arson (dwelling), a felony that carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison

• Six counts of third-degree arson (personal property over $20,000), a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison

• Three counts of fourth-degree arson (personal property $1,000 to $20,000), a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison

• Breaking and entering a building with intent, a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison

• Larceny of a firearm, a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison

• Felony firearm, which carries a penalty of two years in prison

Manes’ criminal history includes convictions for uttering and publishing, unlawful driving away and automobile, and disorderly conduct.

His bond was set at $250,000.00 cash/surety, no 10% and his next court appearance is scheduled for June 18 at 10 a.m. before Judge Derek Meinecke of the 44th District Court.