Authorities have arrested both men suspected of running a meth lab that sparked a New Year's Day fire at a Sioux Falls apartment.
It all started with a report of a fire in an apartment in the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood in central Sioux Falls. The home is between 10th and 11th Streets on South Duluth Avenue.
When crews went inside they put out the fire and found chemicals that are likely to blame for starting the fire. On Thursday, less than an hour after authorities announced they'd issued warrants for the arrests of two men, they caught up with one of them. Ted Witte was driving a pickup, not far from the apartment.
Hours later, they discovered Ricky German, a man who has been in and out of jail since the 1980's. At the time of the arrest, authorities say German was attempting to commit yet another crime.
Investigators call the meth-making going on inside Witte's Sioux Falls apartment a "one-pot method:" not very elaborate, but still dangerous enough to cause a fire Sunday morning.
"They mix it up in a bottle and it can explode and cause a fire," Sgt. Jason Gearman of the Sioux Falls Area Fugitive Task Force said.
Witte burned his feet in the fire, requiring medical attention at the scene.
"A sheriff's office deputy actually got Witte out of the place and he was treated at the ambulance and then taken to local hospital where he was put in ICU for a short time and released before the warrant could be issued," Gearman said.
But with a warrant now in hand, members of the fugitive task force spotted Witte in a pickup near the scene of the fire and arrested him. But German, who's on the South Dakota Sex Offender Registry for a 1986 rape, was still on the loose. Authorities were anxious to get him behind bars because of his long criminal past.
"I can about guarantee you he's creating more victims as we speak, Ricky German is involved in forgeries, frauds, burglaries," Gearman said.
Sure enough, German was apparently trying to create more victims. Authorities arrested him Thursday afternoon at the Players Casino in Sioux Falls where they say he was trying to cash stolen checks.
Both German and Witte are facing several drug charges, including possession in a drug-free area because the apartment where the fire broke out is within 500 feet of the Bowden Youth Center. They're being held on $50,000 bond.