Beam arraignment Thursday
Over the weekend, the house at 2180 Lexington Blvd. that burned on Oct. 1, which officials say was arson, was demolished.
Jonathan Beam, who stands accused of second-degree arson, a Class C felony that could bring up to 10 years in prison, remains in the Washington County Jail under $20,000 bond. His arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in Washington County Court.
Since being arrested earlier this month, Beam filed for a court-appointed attorney. Jeffrey Powell has been assigned to defend Beam. Powell filed a motion for discovery on Oct. 18, asking for all evidence, including items seized by the State of Iowa, test results, and reports from law enforcement officers involved in the investigation of the fire. A bail hearing was also held on Oct. 21, in which Washington County Attorney Larry Brock requested Beam’s bail be changed from $20,000 cash or surety to cash only. The court approved the motion.
At 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Washington County Communications Center received several calls about a house fire at 2180 Lexington Blvd., which is right across from the Washington County Sheriff’s office, a press release from the Washington County Communications Center said. The residence was listed as Jonathan Beam’s residence, the press release said. The Washington Fire Department, Kalona Fire Department, Ainsworth Fire Department, Brighton Fire Department, Washington Police Department, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department all responded to the scene. The state fire marshal’s office was contacted and also reported to the scene of the fire, the press release said. No one was in the house at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported. A search warrant was executed at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the same residence, the Washington County Communications Center call log said. John McMahon is the owner of the home.
According to court records, Sgt. Shawn Ellingson reported that he spoke with a witness who said he was driving west on Lexington Boulevard when he saw smoke. As he approached the driveway, he could see smoke and flames. He also saw a white car leave the driveway and head west. The witness stated the house was clearly on fire as the white car left the driveway.
The records also said that two surveillance videos from cameras at the Washington County jail show a male subject matching Beam’s description going back and forth from the house, the white car and the van several times. The videos were also requested as part of discovery.
Beam was located in Hebron, Neb., in a white Lincoln Town Car with a license plate matching one from the jail video. During an interrogation, Beam admitted to buying items for the purpose of burning the house. The court record said Beam said that he poured gas and fuel oil “everywhere” — not the basement, because he had run out, the report said — and that he threw a partially full gas can down the basement steps. He said that he got gas and fuel oil on his clothes and shoes. He said that he used a torch to start the fire. Beam said the house was smoking and he saw smoke coming from the eaves as he pulled out. The report said Beam planned to plead guilty.