Arson Arrest

A Chippewa Falls woman is accused of fleeing from police, entering a locked garage and setting her purse on fire inside the building.

Barbara J. Link, 49, 3487 S. Joles Parkway, was charged recently in Eau Claire County Court with felony counts of arson of building, burglary, attempting to elude an officer and bail jumping, and misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and obstructing an officer.

Link is scheduled to make her initial court appearance today.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police were called May 8 to a building in the 5500 block of Renee Drive after a woman came inside, pulled the alarm and asked for assistance.

The woman then left the area in a van.

The woman, later identified as Link, then called 911 from Mill Run Road and the North Crossing. She hung up before giving her location or reason for calling.

An officer found Link and her vehicle parked in the grass on the side of the main driveway to the Menards Distribution Center.

The officer made contact with Link after she drove a short distance to the Old Mill Plaza. Link’s vehicle had a defective brake light and no license plates.

Link was rocking back and forth and grabbing at the steering wheel. The officer asked Link several times to turn off the vehicle and roll down her window so he could talk to her, but she did not comply. The officer believed Link may have been under the influence of a controlled substance.

Link then put the vehicle into drive and accelerated away from the officer. The officer got into his vehicle and pursued Link.

Link drove aimlessly through neighboring yards and across roadways and driveways before eventually pulling into the driveway of a residence on North Town Hall Road.

An officer pulled into the driveway and parked behind Link’s vehicle, which was parked in front of a closed garage. Link was no longer inside her vehicle, but it was still running with the keys in the ignition.

The officer looked through a window of the garage and saw Link sitting in the driver’s seat of a large milk truck. The officer tried to open the garage door but it was locked.

Suddenly, a window of the garage was broken.

When a service door was opened from the inside, officers could see a large amount of fire on the floor of the garage that extended several feet. An officer jumped away from the door to avoid the flames.

A window broke on the other side of the garage and officers there then tased Link and took her from the garage, which was still burning inside.

Link resisted officers’ attempts to get her away from the garage. She was taken by ambulance to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

Firefighters extinguished the fire and determined it was started by a purse that was lit on fire near the garage door. Link’s identifying information was inside the purse.

The owner of the property said Link did not have permission to enter the garage or cause damage.

Link was free on a signature bond for an ongoing 2019 felony case in Eau Claire County.

Contact: 715-833-9207, dan.holtz@ecpc.com