Pizza Ranch owner charged with arson

Pizza Ranch police tapeRob Schultz, owner of the Jefferson Pizza Ranch, has been charged in connection with the fire at the restaurant in the early morning of Jan. 27.

Robert Duane Schultz Jr, 53, of Ankeny has been charged with arson-first degree (Class B felony), criminal mischief-first degree (Class C felony), and insurance fraud (Class D felony).

The investigation began immediately after the fire as members of the Jefferson fire department and police department noted there were multiple points of origin for the fire, indicating it was intentionally set.

According to court documents, Schultz said that day that he had left the restaurant at about 10:15 pm Jan. 26. He said he arrived at his home in Ankeny an hour later and learned of the fire from a Greene County dispatcher. He claimed to have no knowledge of the fire.

Stories of a smell of gasoline at the restaurant prior to the fire were told by several Jefferson area residents.  Alliant Energy had been called to H & R Block, immediately to the south of Pizza Ranch, about the smell of gasoline. Schultz told the Alliant employee that he had accidentally spilled gasoline in the main dining area. He said he had taken a 2-gallon plastic gas can in after an employee had run out of gas. He said he knocked the can on a chair and it spilled. The JPD also received calls about the restaurant smelling of gasoline.

Court documents also state Schultz was told two weeks prior to the fire that the alarm and security camera system was not operating. The affidavit states Schultz did not have an explanation of why he hadn’t had the system repaired.

The investigation is ongoing and charges against additional suspects are pending.




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