Man charged with trying to set son on fire accused of choking girlfriend, prompting hours-long standoff

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. -- A Thief River Falls man accused of trying to set his son on fire faces new charges after police say he choked and hit two women before prompting an hourslong standoff this weekend.

Michael Roy Nelson
Michael Roy Nelson

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. -- A Thief River Falls man accused of trying to set his son on fire faces new charges after police say he choked and hit two women before prompting an hourslong standoff this weekend.

Michael Roy Nelson, 46, appeared Monday in Pennington County District Court on a felony domestic assault by strangulation charge, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He also faces two misdemeanor charges: domestic assault and assault in the fifth degree, both of which are punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.

A judge set bond without condition for $20,000, but Nelson could be released from jail for $10,000 if he promises to follow certain conditions - including not leaving Minnesota without court approval, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, having no contact with victims and not possessing firearms.

The recent charges stem from a report Friday night of a fight at an apartment in the 500 block of Main Avenue.

An unnamed victim told police Nelson, her boyfriend, had assaulted her and Christine Lynn Daniels, according to a criminal complaint.


Investigators were told the unnamed victim and Nelson were supposed to haul beets together, but he never showed up. After finding him standing outside his residence and speaking to him, she noticed he was intoxicated and was “acting very strange,” according to the complaint. A fight broke out after witnesses said Nelson became verbally aggressive, telling his girlfriend he had sexual relations with another woman but claimed it wasn’t cheating, according to the complaint.

That’s when Nelson grabbed the victim by her neck and choked her, she told investigators. Nelson let go, and the victim called Daniels, who came to assist her along with others. The complaint described a continued scuffle in which he choked and pushed her to the ground.

Daniels attempted to break up the fight, but she said Nelson punched her in the back of the head. She also stated Nelson may have fractured her cheekbone and told investigators Nelson had assaulted both her and his girlfriend by choking and punching them.

After police arrived at the scene, they said they could hear Nelson moving furniture in an apparent attempt to barricade himself in an apartment building. During the incident, officers were informed Nelson had made suicidal comments to his landlord, stating “he would not come down for law enforcement,” who attempted to reach him by phone.

A perimeter was set up around the area, and SWAT members were called to the scene but were not needed after police determined Nelson was not a threat to the public.

Police made the decision at 10 a.m. Saturday to enter the apartment, and Nelson was taken into custody.

His next court appearance is Oct. 31.

Nelson also faces assault charges in a separate case stemming from an April 10 incident in which he is accused of arson. Court documents detail how he allegedly became angry during a disagreement with family members about a loan given to his juvenile son to purchase a dirt bike.


Witnesses told investigators he climbed into the back of a truck where the bike was stored, tipped over the bike, took off its gas cap and tried to light it on fire with a match. They also said he tried to start a tractor on fire.

Witnesses said Nelson took a can of ether and lit it with a match before spraying it toward his son, lighting the front of the boy’s sweatshirt on fire, according to a criminal complaint.

Nelson also is accused of dragging his father, who uses a wheelchair, out of bed and down the hall.

A pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 28 in that case, in which Nelson has been charged with two second-degree felony counts of attempted arson, a second-degree felony charge of assault and a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. He faces up to 17 years and three months in prison and a $25,000 fine if he is convicted and sentenced on all four charges.

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