The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on May 24, 1991 · Page 28
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 28

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Friday, May 24, 1991
Page 28
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6M THE DES MOINES REGISTER Friday, May 24, 1991 Fire at Christian College was arson, officials rule A fire Monday that damaged the ; former Iowa Christian College build- ing at 2847 Indianola Ave. was arson, a Des Moines fire official said Thursday. Fire investigator Jason Johnson said no suspects have been identified. Intruders, sometimes called urban METRO RECORD miners, have been in the vacant building and have taken ceiling fans and other items, Johnson said. Vandalism also has been reported. Fire damage was estimated at 18,000 to (10,000. The building has been in the news because of a controversial plan to convert it into a substance abuse treatment center. D.M. woman charged with first-degree arson Des Moines fire and police investigators arrested Amy Scott, 22, of 6319 Hickman Road on a charge of first-degree arson this week. Scott, who left the Polk County Jail on a pre-trial release program, is accused of setting fire March 8 to the door of an apartment house in which she was living. Damage to the building at 2310 Hickman Road was estimated between (500 and $1,000. Officials said the fire endangered the lives of other residents in the building, leading to the first-degree charge. AIDS patient on trial for arson incident in ivansdale By JACK HOVELSON W TIM UNhUrt WtMdM lurwu WATERLOO, IA. - The man accused of setting fire to a home for AIDS victims in Evansdale tried to collect insurance on fire-damaged appliances that had been donated to the facility, the prosecutor in the arson trial of Rocky Rom ero said Thursday. In her opening! statement, Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney bocky Linda Hall also romero charged that while living in Kansas City, Romero gave his television set and VCR to a friend, told him to keep them hidden, and then tried to collect insurance on the items after fire damaged a storage area at Romero's apartment house. I x if NOW OPEN NEW EASTSIDE SUPERSTORE Has Your t-4 FLORALS AD EFFECTIVE MAY 24 THRU MAY 30, 1991 DES MOINES 2700 INGERSOLL AVE, 283-8404 1300 S.E.PARK AVE. 283-8486 3330 HARDING RD. 283-8436 SOUTHRIDGE 1111 E. ARMY P0STRD 283-8464 2540 EAST EUCLID 801 S.ANKENY BLVD. 283-8480 WEST DES MOINES 1990 GRAND AVE. 283-8438 170035THST. 283-8444 URBANDALE 8601 DOUGLAS 283-8446 6" MUM PLANT JJ. XJJ MEMORIAL DAY CASH &CMFL0WER BUNCH 12 CARNATIONS IN CEMETERY CAN I p ad. GLADIOLUS BYTHESTEM Romero's lawyer, Sue Albright, contended in her opening statement that the most that might be proven is that her client filed false claims for insurance. "But that's not the crime he's charged with here," said Albright, a public defender. Romero, 34, is charged with first-degree arson in connection with a March 17, 1990, fire that heavily damaged an attached garage at a duplex. The home had been the target of controversy for months after it was purchased by Black Hawk County and leased to the Cedar Valley Hospice agency as a home for four terminally ill AIDS victims. Romero and Mark Herl were the first patients placed in the home. Romero told officials that on the night of the fire he heard a noise outside, but saw nothing and assumed it Plaintiff says former lover ruined her job was the wind. Later, while taking some pop bottles to his unit's garage, he smelled smoke but saw no fire. He said he later told HerL who had been asleep, about the smoke odor and when they went outside to investigate they saw smoke seeping from the closed door to the other duplex unit's garage door. Evansdale firefighters confined the flames to the garage, but some furniture and appliances that had been donated for the facility were damaged or destroyed. Albright said it will be shown that there was widespread opposition in Evansdale to having an AIDS hospice house in the Waterloo suburb, and there were threats that the house would be burned. "We don't expect to come in here and name some other person as the one who set the fire. That only happens in Terry Mason,' " she said. mm 1 Continued from Page One perceived she was treated unfairly. Burridge became Monohon's supervisor when she returned to work after bearing a child by another man, Mo-nohon testified. Burridge demoted her, she said, just months after he offered to marry her and help raise the child. She said she declined his offer. Monohon testified that she had broken off her relationship with Burridge more than a year earlier because she thought that the company president, Roger Espe, directed her to end it or lose her job. Both Burridge and Monohon were vice presidents who brokered reinsurance for the company. Reinsurance is a type of coverage purchased by insurance companies to guard against huge claims. Monohon said she knew she was demoted because her name appeared in a lower place on company memos. Other brokers were sent to conferences to deal with her clients. She was shut out of the inner circle, she said. Her change of status was documented in a memo dated May 2, 1984, to Espe from Burridge and Frank Brunk, another broker. The memo, submitted as evidence by Roxanne Conlin, Monohon's attorney, said that Monohon's authority would be limited to that of an assistant to Burridge and Brunk. "It would be explained to her that she would be peaked insofar as salary and title and that she should anticipate only COLA (cost-of-living) raises," the memo said. "Also, Burridge and Brunk think we should write a job description for Linda and it would be presented to her In a fashion just as if she was a new applicant That is, we would not allow for a 'discussion' of it, other than to assure her understanding and agreement to the Job description." The memo also said that Monohon told company officials she wanted a new job, presumably because she had a baby. But Monohon testified she never said she wanted a different job because she had a young child. Monohon testified that she repeatedly asked for higher-level jobs to move forward in her career and to get away from Burridge. Several memos that she wrote to that effect were introduced as evidence. Man convicted of murdering gi By CHRIS OSHER Rtfhttr Stiff Wrttw A Polk County jury Thursday convicted a Des Moines man of first-degree murder for beating to death his girlfriend. The jury deliberated about two hours before finding Roger Pegram, S3, guilty of killing his live-in girlfriend, Maria Schuler, 41. Schuler's bruised body was found early Dec. 19 on the floor of her apartment at the Landmark South complex, 200 Dick-man Ave. Earlier this month, Lana Anderson, 43, the manager of the Landmark South apartments, was found slain in the apartment next door to Schuler's. Pegram's lawyer, John Wellman, attempted to convince the jurors that the two deaths were connected and that Schuler's killer still roamed free. Assistant Polk County Attorney Nan Horvat in her closing arguments stressed the differences between the two killings. Anderson was robbed, but Schuler was not; Anderson died from a broken neck, while Schuler's death was caused by a prolonged beating, Horat said. A tearful Pegram testified that he found Schuler's body and called the police after he came home from a night of drinking. Pegram denied that he ever had beaten Schuler, even though he had pleaded guilty of domestic assault in October. Horvat told the jurors Pegram killed Schuler and then washed the body in the bathtub and cleaned the apartment He left the apartment to drink and called police when he was ready, Horvat said. "Oh, the tears flowed," Horvat said of Pegram's testimony. "He was very sad, but were the tears for Maria? I don't think so." Pegram faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Polk County District Judge Ray Hanrahan set a sentencing date of July 12. Pegram appeared stunned following the verdict. His mother, Norma Pegram, began to sob. Larry Schuler, the former husband of the victim, said a small prayer of thanks. Schuler said he feared Pegram would be acquitted because the judge excluded statements by Maria Schuler's friends- Romero was arrested by Evansdale police 11 days after the fire. Hall . said that before the fire, Romero vis-;; ited several insurance agencies seeking insurance on his personal belong ings and car. Robert Berumez, a former Evans- dale police officer and the trial's first witness, said the first fire call was f of Z a non-existent address four blocks ; away. The second call also was to a ; wrong address, he said. "When we got there Herl was up set, hysterical and crying. Romero was standing next to his Bronco. We told them to get inside the Bronco because there was a crowd gatherings 1 Some people were saying, 'Let the house burn.' " said Berumez, now i i Waterloo police officer. ', Herl died of AIDS-related compli-l'.' cations nine months after the fire. From south D.M. to south of the border By TOM ALEX RwltMr Sta Writer A 320,000 piece of construction equipment, stolen from the south side of Des Moines in March 1990, was said to have turned up in Mexico re-, cently. "-' What happened next, said Des Moines police Detective Robert BeZ ener, was a comedy of errors. But no one is laughing. ,n Kim Bareness, 37, of Fargo, N.D.t was elated to learn that his valuable piece of equipment had been recovs ered by Mexican authorities. Through some kind of snafu, the orange and white Melroe Bobcat skidloader had not been insured, and he and his wife, Kathy, still are making $756 monthly; payments on the missing Bobcat. It had been stolen from a job site at 5231 Fleur Drive in Des Moines, m. Barsness returned to his home id' Fargo and continued working. Beener said that not long ago the California Highway Patrol at San Diego learned from Mexican officials; that the Bobcat had been found in the:, city of Mexicali. A flurry of dispatches followed in an effort to make sure the recovered Bobcat was indeed the one taken., from the Des Moines construction, site. . "' j Beener sent off two certified copies of the title to the Bobcat, two certir, fied copies of the theft report and a; copy of the original notice informing; other law agencies of the theft. Kathy Barsness said that when con:, firmation was made that authorities, in Mexico did have the Bobcat, "I screamed and jumped up and down. I was so excited." ' . ; Her husband drove from Fargo to Mexicali, taking three days to make , the trip south. When he arrived Sun day, he was told he could pick it up on-Monday. T "The Mexican police made my hus-a band sit all day long on Monday, and finally at the end of the day they lei " him take a look at it," Kathy Barsness said. "Well, it wasn't ours. It wasn't the right color, it wasn't made by;" Melroe company, it wasn't a Bobcat, it wasn't a 1989 model. It wasn't even close." 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