Pizza Ranch fire investigated as arson

Pizz Ranch interior frontThe fire that severely damaged the Jefferson Pizza Ranch in the early hours of Jan. 27 is being investigated as arson according to search warrants executed in the days after the fire.

A search warrant was obtained by the Jefferson police department to get surveillance video from Peoples Trust & Savings Bank, which is on the same city block as Pizza Ranch. The warrant named Pizza Ranch owners Robert and Carla Schultz of Ankeny.

Another warrant was obtained to get the cellular phone records of Pizza Ranch manager Melinda Wood of Jefferson. A court document specifies that Wood willingly provided the JPD her cellular phone number during an interview the day following the fire.

The application for the search warrant states that “upon arrival, the Jefferson fire department and the Jefferson police department determined the fire had been intentionally set as there were numerous points of origin.” State fire marshal special agent Mike Lillebo also determined the fire had been intentionally set, the application states.

The investigation is ongoing.

No criminal charges have been filed. Should charges be filed, they are merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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