Peter William Warren, 48, of Redwood Falls made his first appearance in Redwood County Fifth District Court Monday afternoon where he is facing 13 counts, including second degree murder, third degree murder, second degree manslaughter and 10 counts of first degree arson for his alleged role in the fire at Lakeside Manor.
The fire, which occurred at the Redwood Falls apartment complex Jan. 24, resulted in the death of Gene Gilland, and the court report alleges Warren intentionally started the fire that resulted in that death.
Warren, who was arrested one week after the fire by law enforcement, is currently in the custody of the Redwood County Sheriff’s Department, after having his bail set at $1.5 million without conditions and $1 million with conditions by District Court Judge David Peterson. Bail was set at that amount based on the seriousness of the charges – all 13 are felony level offenses – and the fact that Warren posed a flight risk, as he had a bus ticket to Texas where the report states he was planning to work.
According to the report, an agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was called in at 11 p.m. the night of the fire, as local police chief Mark Dressen believed the fire was started suspiciously.
The BCA agent met that evening with officers from the Redwood Falls Police Department, as well as with members of the Redwood Falls Fire Department.
Those at the scene believe the fire had started in a closet on the first floor of the apartment complex, with fire chief Matt Grave confirming the fact that the fire appeared to have been started intentionally. The state fire marshal was also called to the scene to investigate the incident, and he determined the fire to be incendiary.
The state fire marshal report indicates the investigation led him through the front entrance where he observed light smoke, with smoke and carbon deposits on horizontal surfaces. He observed heavier deposits of smoke on the first floor, with significant fire damage in the hallway near the dining area.
Significant damage was observed in the dining area, especially in the south area near a closet where significant damage was also observed. The investigation by the fire marshal confirmed the fire had started in the closet, with heat patterns determining the fire was caused by burning plastic and styrofoam that had been stored in the closet.
Significant fire damage was also observed in several apartments in the complex, with nine determined to be damaged most significantly.
The report states the fire marshal also conducted interviews, and those people who were interviewed had follow-up interviews with the BCA and local law enforcement.
During the investigation, it was determined there was video surveillance in the facility, and a technician with the company providing the video surveillance for the apartment complex was able to provide video from the time period before, during and after the fire was determined to have started.
Page 2 of 2 - The report states the video shows the defendant going down to the first floor, exiting the elevator and walking down to the dining area on the first floor entering the area in the location near the closet. A few moments later, the defendant is again observed on the video walking up the north steps of the building away from the dining area.
Another individual is also seen leaving the dining area soon after, and then the video shows smoke filling the area and a large glow from the growing fire.
The second individual was interviewed by law enforcement, and confirmed the defendant had been in the dining area, and said after he saw the smoke he left the apartment complex.
The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office was called to conduct an autopsy on Gene Gilland, and that report, which was submitted by an assistant medical examiner states Gilland had died as a result of carbon monoxide toxicity due to fire, adding the manner of death was determined to be homicide.
Law enforcement in-terviewed the defendant, and according to the report said he was in the dining area, but the report states he told law enforcement he did not see a fire on the first floor before going back to his apartment in the complex. After initially denying going into the dining area, the defendant, the report states, admitted going in to look at a deer through the windows.
A second interview was conducted with the defendant Jan. 31, which is when the defendant was taken into custody by law enforcement.
The defendant faces up to 40 years in prison for the second degree murder charge, with up to 20 years in prison for each of the first degree arson charges.