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Youth face charges for slew of fires and thefts in Willmar

WILLMAR -- Three juveniles were charged Monday for burglarizing and setting fire to several garages in Willmar over the weekend. They each face seven felonies.

Suspects include Cody Ryan Sander, 17, of Kandiyohi, and Anthony Von Erickson, 16, of Willmar. A 14-year-old is also charged.

The suspects were charged with two counts of first-degree arson using combustible or flammable material, four counts of third-degree burglary and one count of theft.

They are being held at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs in Willmar.

They allegedly stole an estimated $1,262 in various items, including a GPS, cooler, charcoal grill, stereo, CDs, motorcycle helmet, beer and a backpack containing college books.

The spree began around 2:27 a.m. Saturday when a fire was reported at 604 S.W. Ninth St. The suspects allegedly used flammable materials to start the fire, which destroyed a building and a 1993 Ford Taurus parked inside the garage.

The intense blaze was punctuated by a number of explosions and spread to the rear of a neighboring home that was also damaged.

While officers were on the scene there, another garage fire was reported at 510 S.W. Ninth St. The fire partially destroyed the structure and an ATV and truck parked inside.

A neighbor there told officers the door of his garage was also open, items were missing and a gas can was sitting on the ground. Later, a resident of the 900 block of Trott Avenue Southwest reported his vehicle had been tampered with. He said paper had been used to start a fire but that the vehicle but it didn't catch fire.

Another homeowner in the 400 block of 10th Street Southwest told officers she woke to a loud sound, which turned out to be a vehicle window being smashed. She said she saw three people running away.

Around 5 a.m., a Pope County police dog was brought in to assist with the search for the suspects. Around the same time, the collection of items stolen from the garages was discovered at a location on Ninth Street Southwest.

The suspects were spotted nearby and officers pursued them on foot.

Sander and Erickson were arrested at a residence on Becker Avenue.

The 14-year old was apprehended by a Pope County deputy.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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