Former Texas State student charged in deadly iconic village fire

todayJuly 6, 2023 748 8 4

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By Preethi Mangadu 

News & Culture Director 

SAN MARCOS—A former Texas State undergraduate student has been arrested as part of a years-long investigation into the cause of the 2018 Iconic Village Apartments fire that killed five people and severely injured others.  

Authorities announced Jacobe De Leon OShea Ferguson, 30, who lived at the complex from December 2017 to at least June 2018, was charged on Wednesday with arson causing bodily injury or death – a first-degree felony. 

The Investigation   

The City of San Marcos hosted a press conference Thursday morning with the San Marcos Fire Department; the San Marcos Police Department; the Houston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Hays County District Attorney’s Office; Hays County Justice of the Peace; and the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers Division. San Marcos fire marshal Jonathan Henderson detailed the process of the investigation during Thursday’s press conference. 

The investigation began July 20, 2018. Former San Marcos fire marshal Kelly Kisner requested for assistance to determine the origin of fire from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and the ATF that morning. The on-scene investigation lasted ten days.  

Off-site the investigation continued with witness interviews, test burns, local work and more. The San Marcos Fire Department and the ATF announced that the fire was intentional and ruled the deaths as homicides on November 30, 2018. In 2021, authorities determined that allegedly an accelerant was used to ignite the fire. 

While the investigation has been open for five years, Henderson said, “that this case has always been a priority to the same work as fire department and the ATF.” They investigated every tip that came in and every lead they had.  

In October 2022, a task force was made under San Marcos Fire Chief Les Stephens and Chief of Police Stan Standridge for  “a new perspective and a fresh set of eyes on the case.” Henderson said, “this influx of fresh enthusiasm mixed with previous case knowledge ended up being the needed catalyst.” The task force met weekly and discussed the case daily while reexamining what they knew.   

Through the previous work of the ATF and State Marshal Office and re-interviewing witnesses, an arrest warrant was obtained for arson causing serious bodily injury or death, a felony of the first degree.  

The arrest warrant was served by the US Marshals Lonestar Fugitive Task Force Wednesday morning, and Ferguson was arrested without incident and was booked at the Hays County Jail.  

Henderson said no other arrests are anticipated for this case, but the investigation remains open as the task force continues working with the Hays County District Attorney’s office.   

While specifics about evidence, motives and other parts of the investigation were not discussed, Henderson noted that Ferguson was interviewed in the initial round of witness interviews and has no criminal record.  

The Iconic Village Fire 

The apartment complex fire was called in around 4:27 a.m. on July 20, 2018. The fire was in building 500, where Ferguson did not reside at the time, Henderson said.   

Dru Estes, 20, Belinda Moats, 21, Haley Michele Frizzell, 19, James Phillip Miranda, 23 and David Ortiz, 21, died because of the fire. Several people were injured including Zachary Sutterfield, who sustained third-degree burns to nearly 70 percent of his body and a brain injury. Most of those killed were Texas State students at the time of the fire. 

Many other people were displaced from their home. Both building five and three at Iconic Village were damaged, and Vintage Pad, a nearby apartment complex, was damaged due to proximity.  

Brian Frizzell, Haley Frizzell’s father, spoke at the press conference on Thursday and expressed his thankfullness for the investigators and taskforce working on this case.  

“I know that Michelle and I, and the families I’ve spoken to, we’re happy that this day has finally come,” Frizzell said. “But most importantly, we want to thank all the people who made it happen. Because I know six or seven months ago, this sure seemed like it was ready to go and be a cold case forever.”  

For more information, view the press conference here: 




Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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