Security workers discharged after dumpster blazes

by Andrea McNamara

Two of the three Simpson students charged with setting dumpsterfires on and near campus are no longer working on the college’ssecurity force, the college’s security director said.

Junior Ross Parker and freshman Jonathan Schueller worked assecurity employees at the college when they were arrested, SecurityDirector Chris Frerichs said.

“The removal from security was after these events occurred. Atthe time of the events they were on the staff,” said Frerichs.

According to Frerichs students are taken through an interviewprocess and if they’ve been on campus before they discuss anyincidents that could have occurred. There is not a specificcriminal background check, but for adult fulltime staff members theschool does it differently.

“If it’s brought to our attention if any student has beeninvolved in an incident, if we feel it’s outside of what weconsider appropriate, we issue a verbal warning, written warning,suspension, or termination,” Frerichs said. “In the past we haveterminated security students due to discipline issues, the waythey’re doing their jobs, to behavior outside of work andacademics.”

Parker has been charged with reckless use of fire for hisalleged involvement in a dumpster fire behind Kappa Kappa Gammasorority. Parker admitted to setting the fire as a prank, accordingto Indianola Police Department incident reports.

Schueller faces the same charge for his alleged involvement inthe Barker Hall dumpster fire.

One other student, junior Adam Leber, has been charged withsecond-degree arson in connection with his alleged setting adumpster fire at Irving Elementary School.

Parker, Schueller and Leber all refused comment on thecharges.

Don Duke, an Indianola police detective, said he investigatedthe fires in the Simpson College area.

“I went and interviewed Ross first and read him his rights andthen he confessed to doing some of the first and also stated forsure that Leber had set some of the fires,” said Duke. “It lookslike some other friends of (Parker’s) were helping him start thesefires. He just didn’t want to tell us who they were.”

Duke said he interviewed three witnesses – including one formerSimpson student and a current student – and those interviews ledhim to Parker.

“It was the ultimate prank,” said Duke. “Some people onSimpson’s campus were pranking each other seeing how long it wouldtake (investigators) to find the fire. Somebody decided settingfires was kind of a neat pranks to see the reaction of thecommunity.”

“I was working with Simpson security and we were getting theback-history log on all the key cards. We knew what time some ofthese (suspects) were coming and going and some of that correlatedwith the times the fires were being reported,” said Duke.

Reckless use of fire is a serious misdemeanor under Iowa law,and second-degree arson is a class C felony.

“One of the recommendations for punishment would be restitutionon any expenses that McCoy Sanitation had, the college had, or thefire department,” said Duke.

“The fire at Irving was so hot that it destroyed the dumpster,”said Duke. The damage from the Irving Elementary dumpster fire,which was so hot that it destroyed the dumpster, is estimated at$500, Duke said. The Barker fire was estimated to cause $100 indamage, and the dumpster was repairable.

Schueller turned himself into the Indianola Police Departmentand confessed to setting the dumpster fire in the Barker parkinglot, according to the police. “If somebody is cooperating and hassome remorse for what they did it will benefit them as far asgetting a lesser charge or a lesser fine. The whole goal of this isto stop the fires before somebody gets hurt or property getsruined,” said Duke.

Duke said all dumpster fires set since last August have beensolved.

“We aren’t necessarily going to file criminal charges (on allfires),” said Duke.

After making a comment about the good quality educationavailable at Simpson and the cost of tuition, Indianola PoliceChief Steve Bonnet commented, “The sad part is it may be tough (forthese students) to get a job when this is all said and done.”