December 26, 2002

Vandalism Case May Top $150,000 In Damage

Vandals are being blamed for a fire December 16 that destroyed a mobile home and adjoining machine shed causing more than $150,000 in damage.

The case began with the Scotland County Sheriff's Department investigating a report of property damage at a mobile home located on Bethel Road south of Memphis in rural Scotland County. The residence is owned by Donald and Betty Derksen of O'Fallon.

Officers were on the scene Tuesday, December 16 to investigate a report of vandalism to the property. A mail carrier had notified the department that the mailbox at the property had been damaged by gunfire.

When the sheriff traveled to the site to review the case he found a far worse scenario. The vandal(s) had fired numerous high-powered rifle shots through the mobile home as well as the property's gas tanks and other out buildings.

Officers recovered numerous shell casings at the scene and indicated a 30/30 rifle had been used as well as a .22 rifle. Several of the 30/30 rounds penetrated the entire building. Entering on one side and exiting the opposite side of the building.

The main residence took the brunt of the vandalism. However, when officers returned to the scene the following morning, Wednesday, December 18, they found an adjoining mobile home as well as the machine shed burned to the ground.

The Missouri State Fire Marshall's Office was called to the scene, The investigator indicated that one round had apparently entered the adjoining trailer where it penetrated a cook stove and ruptured the gas line. The investigators believed that the gas leak eventually lead to the fire later that evening or early the next morning. The blaze destroyed the trailer, an adjoining camper and the machine shed.

Fire Marshall Ron McAfee discusses the fire that destroyed a rural Scotland County mobile home and machine shed with Scotland County Sheriff Wayne Winn and firemen Aaron Dannenhauer and Roger Gosney. The fire was believed to have been caused by vandals who shot a hole through a cook stove in the trailer. The bullet is believed to have ruptured the gas line causing the fire, which caused more than $100,000 in damage.

The bulk of the monetary damage occurred in the machine shed, which housed two tractors, five four wheelers, and four fishing boats on trailers as well as a gun safe full of guns, tools and numerous other items. The items were stored there by the property owners and their extended family, who use the home as a weekend getaway for hunting and fishing.

The Fire Marshall's office was on the scene Wednesday, December 18 to review the case. The Scotland County Fire Department assisted in the investigation.

The sheriff's department is asking anyone that may have seen any suspicious traffic in this area during the time frame of the crime to contact the office at 660-465-2106.



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