Man charged with setting house fire after finding man dead in Waupaca County
WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Arson and mutilating a corpse charges have been filed against a man in Waupaca County.
On May 24, Steven D. Eggert, 24, was charged with 16 counts in this case, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News.
On April 27, at about 2:18 p.m., the Iola Rural Fire Department and Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office were called to a fire on County Highway P in the Town of Harrison. Responders found the home “heavily involved in fire.” The roof collapsed.
The home was in a remote area and firefighters had to transport water to the scene. The building collapsed into the basement and continued to burn.
Firefighters contacted the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation to request the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The Arson Bureau responded to the scene to help with search and recovery and investigation. They searched for remains and found the victim’s body within the debris. The body was turned over to the Medical Examiner.
On April 28, witnesses came forward with information on the fire. They said they had sold AR-15 rifles to Steven Eggert, not knowing that he was a felon. On the night of April 26, Witness 1 received phone calls from Eggert and that he seemed panicked. Witness 1 was with Witness 2, who could hear the conversation.
The witnesses say Eggert said he showed up at the victim’s house and found him dead in the kitchen. Witness 1 told Eggert he needed to report the death.
“Eggert stated that he was concerned that law enforcement would think that he killed the deceased person,” reads the complaint. Eggert was also concerned about a warrant.
The witnesses continued to tell Eggert to report the death. Eggert said he had to “figure some s--t out.”
The next day, Witness 1 spoke with Eggert on the phone. Eggert reportedly told the witness that he “took care of it” in regards to the body.
Eggert told the witness that he didn’t want law enforcement to know he had been there.
The witness asked, “What did you do, burn down the house?”
“Well actually yeah,” Eggert responded, according to the complaint.
The witness stated Eggert said he lit the fire “to cover his tracks.”
Eggert reportedly told the witness that he set up a cigarette to look like the victim went to the kitchen to smoke and had a heart attack.
The witness stated that Eggert admitted to taking guns from the victim.
Eggert reportedly told the witness that if the witness told anyone about this “Eggert would have to kill him.”
On April 29, officers interviewed Eggert, who stated that he arrived at the man’s home and found him dead. He admitted to taking “5 or 6″ guns from the victim’s property.
“Eggert stated that the fire was the result of his actions,” reads the complaint.
Eggert said he was smoking a joint and set it down on paper on a table next to a mattress and the fire spread. He said he thought about putting out the fire but “water was not coming out fast enough.”
He told investigators he didn’t want to get blamed for the victim’s death.
Eggert is also charged with a straw gun purchase for having another person purchase a gun for him.
A search warrant was executed at Eggert’s home. Investigators say they found 10 guns, including one purchased in the alleged straw deal. They also found guns allegedly stolen from the man who was found after the fire.
“The danger faced on April 27, 2022 was completely unnecessary as the fire had been set in an arson with no regard for the potential harm that could have occurred to emergency personnel in the face of a raging fire that had been reported after a significant delay,” reads the complaint.
The following charges were filed against Eggert:
- Arson of Building w/o Owner’s Consent
- Mutilating a Corpse
- Straw Purchasing of Firearm
- Burglary-Arm Self w/ Dangerous Weapon (2)
- Possess Firearm-Convicted of a Felony (10)
- 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety
Eggert appeared in court on zoom Tuesday.
Bond was set at $250,000 cash.
A date for further proceedings is set for June 14.
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