by Jim Boyle
Bradley Thomas Webber, an 18-year-old Otsego man, and Jordan Antonio Urena-Muro, a 20-year-old Elk River man, have been charged with first-degree burglary and arson in connection with the Sept. 6 fire that destroyed a home at 421 Rush Ave. in Elk River.
The Elk River Police Department is seeking charges against a third suspect.
Webber and Urena-Muro remain in custody. Webber has a pretrial hearing at 1 p.m. Dec. 26. Urena-Muro has a contested omnibus hearing at 1 p.m. Jan 3.
Elk River police and fire were called to the Rush Avenue home at 7:32 a.m. Sept. 6, and met with the owner of the home who had safely escaped.
The alleged burglars went to the residence with a score to settle with homeowner’s son. Webber believed the 21-year-old man had been romantically involved with his ex-girlfriend.
They were outside the residence when one of the renters was leaving with friends about 7:15 a.m. to get breakfast. Urena-Muro asked the renter if the man he was upset with was at the residence. The renter said he was not and left.
After taking statements from various people and the suspects, police believe Urena-Muro entered through the front door by using a knife to manipulate a dead bolt. Webber is believed to have entered through the back of the home by breaking a window.
Urena-Muro told police he observed Webber squirt butane fuel on an upstairs bedroom, and he then reportedly tossed the man a lighter. He then went downstairs and discovered the homeowner.
They left the residence, and Webber allegedly left with a red duffel bag that was then tossed in bushes about a block away. Upon hearing sirens, Webber told Urena-Muro flames from the bed reached the ceiling, the complaint said.
A homeowner in the 500 block of Oxford Avenue reported finding the red duffel bag, containing numerous items including a Wii gaming system.
Police immediately became suspicious of the fire when the homeowner told them she had saw Jordan Urena-Muro, one of her son’s friends, was in the home without permission. He had opened a door, saw her and had closed it. She then went upstairs and discovered the fire, so she called 911 and exited the home. The fire caused about $75,000 in damage.
Both Webber and Urena-Muro were charged with first-degree arson and first-degree burglary. An arson in the first degree conviction carries a penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine. A burglary in the first degree conviction carries with it 20 years’ imprisonment and/or $35,000 fine. There’s a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than six months.