Two people have been arrested in connection with a fatal fire that occurred Thursday, June 23 in Sedalia.
According to a Sedalia Police Department news release, Aran Tyler Cantrell, 21, of the 300 block of East Second Street, and Cody Harvey, 23, of the 1500 block of South Vermont Avenue, were both arrested Wednesday.
Both Cantrell and Harvey have been charged with first degree arson. They are both at the Pettis County Jail on $250,000 bonds, cash or surety. Online court records do not list an attorney for either man, and information regarding hearings or arraignments were not available at press time.
“Both (suspects) were arrested without incident. They have been interviewed by Sedalia detectives and were later transported to the Pettis County Jail,” said SPD Sgt. Kelley Casto, of the Criminal Investigations Bureau. “… It was witnesses coming forward providing information that led us to these subjects.”
Around 1:15 p.m. June 23, Sedalia Fire Department crews responded to a house fire at 1903 S. Grand Ave., after a Sedalia Police Department officer on patrol called in a report of flames at the residence. Upon arrival, crews found “heavy smoke and fire” coming from the single-story residence, according to SFD Chief Mike Ditzfeld.
The victim, Matthew Eldenburg, 30, of the residence, was found by firefighters on primary search of the residence in the kitchen area; he was the only occupant. After paramedics tried to resuscitate him, Eldenburg was pronounced dead at Bothwell Regional Health Center around 3 p.m.
Casto confirmed that Cantrell made a statement to police, admitting he doused Eldenburg with gasoline while he was unconscious. Cantrell told police Harvey was the one who tried to light Eldenburg on fire, but Harvey maintains he was not involved in the incident.
“We’re still investigating, we’re waiting on pathology and toxicology reports to come back to see if there will be further charges down the line,” Casto said. “Right now we’re at a standstill, there’s other people we still need and hope to talk with. We hope those people will come forward and speak with us.”
According to online court records, Cantrell has previously been charged with a number of crimes, including driving while intoxicated, theft and trespassing, although no violent crimes. Harvey has also never been accused of violent crimes, but has been previously charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, burglary, resisting arrest and stealing.
Pettis County Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith said an autopsy was completed Monday at the Boone County Medical Examiner’s Office. He is waiting for the autopsy and toxicology reports to make a final ruling on the cause of Eldenburg’s death.
“We have asked our lab to put a rush on this since it is a criminal case so hopefully we’ll find some type of results early next week,” Smith said. “We won’t have everything at that point, but we will have some kind of preliminary report.”
The cause of the fire has still not been determined. Ditzfeld said on scene last week the damage to the residence was “significant.” The investigation is being handled by SFD, SPD and the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“We appreciate the public’s help because they did call the department and contacted us on Facebook,” Casto said. “We’d still like to know of any further information. People can contact us at the police department (660-826-8100) or our Facebook page.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.