Charges Culminate Two-Year Arson Investigation
A two-year long investigation into a series of fires at vacant farmsteads in Palo Alto County has culminated with charges against three Emmetsburg residents. The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office filed Arson charges in the Palo Alto County District Court on Monday, Nov. 9.
According to Palo Alto County Sheriff Dennis Goeders, charges of Arson in the Second Degree were filed against 19-year old Lucas Wayne Ezarski, 17-year old Mason John Hoffman and 18-year old Jacob Donald Firkins, all of Emmetsburg.
Chief Deputy Todd Suhr and Deputy John King spearheaded the investigation, which dated back to July of 2007 when arson fires were set at vacant farmsteads in West Bend Township near the Pocahontas County line. In the course of the following two years that ended with an arson fire on July 6, 2009 in Rush Lake Township, a total of 13 arson fires were set at various locations across Palo Alto County.
The arson fires burned property that ranged from old farm houses, vacant building sites, vehicles and machinery parked near the old buildings, which were located in nine townships across the county. Damage estimates for the series of fires over the two-year period totals nearly $25,000.
As a result of the investigation, Lucas Wayne Ezarski was charged with one count of Arson in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony, as well as a count of Theft in the Fifth Degree, for the alleged theft of property from a fire location in Rush Lake Township.
Mason John Hoffman was charged with two counts of Arson in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony, in connection with fires in Rush Lake and Freedom Townships and one count of Theft in the Fifth Degree, for the alleged theft of property from a fire location in Rush Lake Township.
Jacob Donald Firkins was charged with one count of Arson in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony, in connection with a fire at a vacant farm site in Freedom Township.
Under the Iowa Code, Chapter 712.3, Arson in the Second Degree occurs “when the property which the defendant intends to destroy or damage, or which the defendant knowingly endangers, is a building or a structure, or real property of any kind, or standing crops, or is personal property the value of which exceeds five hundred dollars. Arson in the Second Degree is a Class C Felony.”
Under the Iowa Code, Chapter 902.9(4), “A Class C felon, not an habitual offender, shall be confined for no more than ten years, and in addition shall be sentenced to a fine of at least one thousand dollars but not more than ten thousand dollars.”
The investigation into the arson fires was conducted jointly by the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office, West Bend, Mallard, Emmetsburg, Graettinger and Rodman Fire Departments, as well as the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Office and Palo Alto County Attorney’s Office.