Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
www.dps.state.ia.us

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  DCI Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
January 26, 2016 amurphy@dps.state.ia.us
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

Two Arrested, Charged with Murder in 2006 Cold Case

WAPELLO COUNTY, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was called to assist the Wapello County Sheriff’s office and the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) with an Arson investigation that resulted in two deaths.

Yesterday, January 25, 2016, Christopher Joseph Yenger, 28, of Ottumwa, and Zachary Allen Dye, 27, of Council Bluffs, were arrested.  Yenger and Dye are each charged with two counts of Felony Murder.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was asked to assist the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) with a follow up investigation on a fire investigation they conducted in 2006. On March 5, 2006, the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) investigated a fire at a residence in rural Wapello County that claimed the lives of two young men, Nathan Messer, 20, and Seth Anderson, 22, both from Ottumwa.  The investigation in 2006 was closed and the fire was ruled undetermined. 

Information was brought forth alleging the fire was started intentionally by individuals who were involved in a physical altercation at the residence shortly before the fire was discovered.  In January 2016, the case was reopened.  The 2006 investigative report prepared by the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) showed that on March 4, 2006 into the early morning of March 5, 2006, a 21st birthday party was held at the home located at 11612 140th Street in rural Wapello County.  This party started around 7:00 pm on March 4, 2006, and had approximately 20-30 attendees; all around the age of 21.  The party concluded between 3:00 am and 5:00 am on March 5, 2006.  

At approximately 6:33 am on March 5, 2006, a neighbor observed smoke and flames coming from the residence of 11612 140th Street.  Wapello County Rural Fire and Rescue and the Hedrick Fire Department were called and responded to the scene.  Arriving emergency personnel found two individuals outside of the home.  The residence was fully engulfed in flames and sustained major fire damage.  Seth Anderson and Nathan Messer, who were sleeping on the second floor of the home, never made it out and died from smoke inhalation. 

Special Agents from the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) responded to the scene on March 5, 2006 and conducted their investigation.  During this investigation the origin and cause of the fire was not able to be determined.  Wapello County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal (SFM) Special Agents conducted interviews with individuals who attended the party the night prior.  As a result of these interviews, it was learned that in the early hours of March 5, 2006, a physical altercation took place between an individual at the party and Chris Yenger, who had shown up to the party.  Yenger was asked to leave the party.

This is an ongoing investigation being worked jointly by the Wapello County Sheriff’s office, the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Iowa Department of Public Safety's (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM).

No further information will be released at this time.

Media Contact: Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Michael Motsinger at (515) 729-3706
Alex Murphy, Iowa DPS Investigative Operations/DCI Public Information Officer at (515) 443-3014.

Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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