Franklin Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced for Arson at Columbia Kroger

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June 28, 2024 – Jeffrey Lee Mealer, a 55-year-old man from Franklin, Tennessee, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison without parole for Aggravated Arson.

Mealer intentionally set fire to the building and shopping cart storage area outside the Columbia Kroger (located at 845 Nashville Highway) on June 5, 2022, while the night stock crew was working inside. He remained at the scene as Columbia Police and Columbia Fire & Rescue responded. Through security camera footage and witness statements, Mealer was identified as a suspect. He was subsequently arrested and charged with Aggravated Arson, six counts of Reckless Endangerment, and Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Sell.

“Arson is a severe crime, especially when it endangers lives through senseless acts,” remarked Columbia Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Donnie Knoepfel. “Columbia Fire and Rescue is committed to working with state and local authorities to ensure these crimes are investigated, prosecuted, and to hold perpetrators responsible for their actions.”

Last week, Mealer accepted a plea deal in Maury County Circuit Court that included the 15-year sentence.

“All agencies involved did a phenomenal job working together for a successful outcome in this case,” said Assistant Chief Knoepfel in response to the conviction.

This case was investigated by the Columbia Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and Columbia Fire and Rescue.

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Source: Columbia Police Department

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