Granger woman charged with arson, criminal mischief following Granger house explosion

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

A 51-year-old Granger woman was charged Monday, July 27, with several charges in connection to an explosion at a Granger home on June 19.

Michelle Ellenberger, 51, faces three counts of arson resulting in bodily injury and one count of criminal mischief, according to a news release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.

Ellenberger was attempting to kill herself at her home in the 51000 block of Jodie Lynn Drive in Granger by a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning and overdosing on benzodiazepine when the explosion happened, according to court documents.

Two vehicles in the garage of the home were running with the garage door closed and the gas knobs on the stove were turned on to release gas in the air, according to court documents. A gas supply line in the basement had also been manually unscrewed, causing gas to leak into the basement.

The home was filling with gas when a female relative and acquaintance arrived at the home on June 19, according to court documents. The relative opened the garage and noticed that the two vehicles inside were on and the inside of the garage was very hot.

The relative and acquaintance ran into the home to find Ellenberger on a couch. The relative then went to the kitchen to turn off the gas coming from the stove when the explosion happened, causing part of the ceiling to collapse and fall on the relative’s head.

Eventually the relative, the acquaintance and Ellenberger escaped from the home through the front door.

The relative was treated for pain to her head, headaches and smoke inhalation. The acquaintance was treated for headaches and ringing in his ears.

An officer who responded to the explosion was also treated for smoke and heat exposure after he ran into the house amid a cloud of smoke and fire, according to court documents.

Ellenberger was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and a benzodiazepine overdose. A blood test showed that Ellenberger’s carbon monoxide level was 7.9 percent, according to court documents. Toxic concentration of carbon monoxide in the blood is at 20 percent or greater, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Fire in the kitchen, laundry room, dining room and basement of the home caused more than $50,000 damage to the home, which was deemed a total loss.

Ellenberger later acknowledged that her actions harmed other people and was concerned for them, according to court documents.

In addition to the charges, Ellenberger was ordered not to contact any of the victims of the explosion, per the family’s wishes, according to court documents. She is being held at the St. Joseph County Jail on $10,000 bond. She is believed to be a flight risk after she checked herself out of the hospital before police could detain her and walked more than seven miles to the Jodie Lynn Drive home.

The state also requested that Ellenberger wear a GPS ankle monitor if she is released from jail.

If convicted of all charges, Ellenberger could face up to 50 ½ years in prison.