Ellendale couple in arson case to have joint trial
Published 11:33 am Thursday, April 17, 2014
An Ellendale couple charged with starting their home on fire in 2011 will have a combined trial later this summer, according to Steele County District Court files.
Mark Allan Misgen, 43, and Sara Ellen Degen-Misgen, 40, face charges of arson and insurance fraud tied to the fire at their house, at 403 W. Fifth Ave. in Ellendale, on Dec. 7, 2011. The home was a total loss.
Steele County Attorney Dan McIntosh this week motioned to have the trials combined, and neither Misgen’s lawyer or Degen-Misgen’s lawyer opposed.
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Court documents state firefighters battled two fires at the house — within two hours of each other. Investigators found the two fires were not related.
A neighbor reportedly told police he could see Misgen “monkeying around” inside the house before the second fire, and Degen-Misgen allegedly admitted in an insurance claim that she purchased isopropyl alcohol in Owatonna, which can be used as an accelerant for fire, according to the court complaint.
The two are facing the felony charges after investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Steele County Sheriff’s Office reportedly found inconsistencies in the couple’s statements regarding what had taken place the night of the fires. The couple reportedly submitted insurance claims for $395,000 for the damages.
Authorities note the couple was in the middle of financial difficulties at the time of the blaze. Court records state they owed almost $300,000, between their house mortgage and their two businesses, Maggio’s pizza in Ellendale and Mystic Pizza in Lonsdale.
The date of the trial has not yet been set.