Spicer, Minn., man faces arson, property damage charges for driving Jeep through fields, burning it
WILLMAR -- Dale Duaine Binger, 43, of Spicer, made his first court appearance Thursday on a felony arson charge and a misdemeanor property charge for allegedly driving a Jeep through corn and soybean fields near Atwater and then setting the vehicle on fire.
Binger was released on his personal recognizance. His next appearance is Oct. 10 in Kandiyohi County District Court.
According to the complaint, sheriff's deputies were called around 11:30 a.m. July 24 to a rural Atwater address regarding a vehicle on fire in a cornfield. The vehicle was engulfed in fire when the first deputy arrived.
A citizen reported that there was damage to another field in the area and he had observed the vehicle in the field catch fire. The fire was extinguished by the Atwater Fire Department and law enforcement determined the vehicle belonged to Binger and an Atwater woman.
Binger was located in a nearby soybean field, talking gibberish about radios and people in trees. He had orange spray paint on his shoulders, hands, shorts and around his body. Deputies also found orange paint on the burned vehicle.
Deputies located the Atwater woman and informed her that the vehicle had been burned. She mentioned their daughter had been bothered by members of a religious group and that the family had loaded up their valuables and financial documents in the Jeep, the vehicle that burned, and were going to leave town for a while.
One of the deputies tracked the vehicle's tracks through multiple corn and soybean fields, farm yards and marshlands southwest of Atwater.
The vehicle had also been ransacked, as personal property was scattered around the field. The majority of the fire damage was inside the Jeep, with no fire damage in the engine compartment. Fire department members noted that the air intake hose and cover to the fuse box were off the vehicle and the oil dip stick was raised and not in the proper position. The hood was unlatched with a shirt lying on top of the motor. A fire consultant later determined that the fire was started on the passenger front seat.
The value of the 2007 Jeep Wrangler was estimated between $2,100 and $2,500.
A witness later reported to law enforcement that she had observed Binger's vehicle exiting a bean field near her residence, with the vehicle nearly sideswiping a camper before continuing down the street. The witness noted that the vehicle was covered in beans and mud, but that Binger normally keeps his vehicles immaculate.