Suspects in Hawick lumber company blaze make first court appearances

WILLMAR -- Two men suspected in the arson and burglary of a lumber yard in Hawick made their first appearance Tuesday morning in Kandiyohi County District Court.

WILLMAR -- Two men suspected in the arson and burglary of a lumber yard in Hawick made their first appearance Tuesday morning in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Gary Alvin Scheel, 54, of Belgrade and Gregory Allen Scheel, 22, of Paynesville are facing three felony charges each.

The father and son allegedly burglarized and set the Monson Lumber Company ablaze early Saturday morning.

Judge Michael J. Thompson set unconditional bail at $25,000 for Gary Scheel, with conditional bail at $7,500. Unconditional bail for Greg Scheel was set at $50,000, with conditional bail at $25,000.

A person who posts "conditional bail" must abide by certain conditions of release.


Greg Scheel is facing felony charges of second-degree arson, second-degree burglary and theft. Gary Scheel is facing felony charges of second-degree arson -- liability for crimes of another, second-degree burglary -- liability for crimes of another and theft -- liability for crimes of another. Under Minnesota statute, "liability for crimes of another" refers to aiding and abetting another to commit a crime.

According to the criminal complaint, the Scheels were arrested after four individuals in Hawick identified them as suspects.

The four individuals told Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies that they decided to take a look around the lumber yard after finding the pop machine damaged in front of the store. The foursome said they spotted Greg Scheel walking through the lumber yard with a large box.

As Greg Scheel was approached by the foursome, he allegedly took off on foot, dropping the box. The four chased Greg Scheel into a bean field west of town where he allegedly flagged down his father along the road. The two then drove off in a truck toward New London, the complaint states.

"That's just not coincidental," said Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog.

Hartog said Gary Scheel had been in the area of Hawick. Greg Scheel denied being in the Hawick area at all, while the elder Scheel said he was at someone's home in Hawick until about 5:30 a.m.

The box that Greg Scheel had allegedly been carrying was found to contain $129 in coins as well as numerous drill bits, saw blades, door knobs, lock sets and other items removed from the lumber yard. The value of all of the items was more than $500.

While some of the stolen coins and supplies were taken from the inside of the lumber company, the motive for the fire is still under investigation, Hartog said.


According to the complaint, state fire marshals Steven Kallen and John Steinbach were able to rule out all accidental causes for the fire at the lumber company. Their investigation determined the fire was started in the employee break room using newspaper, magazines and gloves. According to the marshals, the fire expanded from the room to the upstairs of the building, resulting in a partial collapse of the second floor.

Firemen and emergency personnel from local communities were on scene battling the blaze for nearly five and half hours until around 11 a.m. Saturday. Despite their efforts, the building is a complete loss.

Kandiyohi County Attorney Boyd Beccue said the charges were levied after examining the evidence and investigation of the incident. "Probable cause supports the charges," Beccue said.

The Scheels both have prior convictions in Kandiyohi County. Beccue said prior convictions would be calculated into the sentencing for the current charges if they are found guilty. However, Beccue stressed that the Scheels are innocent until proven guilty.

The Scheels' next court date is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Aug. 14.

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