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Suspect arrested in San Marcos arson that killed 5 people at Iconic Village Apartments

The side of a car with San Marcos Police written on it
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

On July 20, 2018, a fire killed five people at the Iconic Village apartment complex in San Marcos. Nearly five years later, a suspect has been arrested in connection with the incident, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Thirty-year-old Jacobe De Leon O Shea Ferguson, then a Texas State University student who lived in the complex, has been charged with arson causing bodily injury or death, a first-degree felony that could result in life in prison. Officials haven’t given a motive.

The fire killed Haley Frizzell, 19; Dru Estes, 20; Belinda Moats, 21; David Ortiz, 21; and James Miranda, 23. Several others were injured. The fire destroyed one building and damaged several others nearby.

“Five a.m. phone calls are terrible and no parent ever wants to receive one,” Brian Frizzell said at a press conference Thursday morning.

He said he was glad people were still working on his daughter’s case.

“I know six or seven months ago, this sure seemed like it was ready to be a cold case forever,” Frizzel said.

San Marcos Fire Chief Les Stephens said Thursday the department never stopped investigating.

“We followed up on every single lead,” he said.

According to the arrest report, the fire started on a mattress that was left in the breezeway of the building. One resident told investigators she had left the mattress there for Ferguson. He initially denied knowing anything about it, but later said he lied.

No interviews were conducted between December 2018 and last October, when Stephens and San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge created a task force to investigate the fire.

The task force began to review the case with assistance from the ATF, San Marcos Police Department and the Texas Rangers.

Fire Marshal Jonathan Henderson, a member of the task force, said this new group gave a “fresh set of eyes” to the investigation.

"If I was a loved one or a close friend of one of the victims that were killed or injured, I would wonder what took so long," he said. "Please know that the investigators have felt this way as well."

Henderson said investigations often take longer than expected, and they had several setbacks. He said there was no specific tip or new information leading to Ferguson’s arrest.

The task force used the original reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and from the Fire Marshal’s Office. Members also re-interviewed people involved in the case in 2023. Ferguson was not among those reinterviewed.

Frizzell said he wasn’t expecting results from the task force but was relieved to hear news of the arrest.

“We are eternally grateful for all of those that kept looking and kept re-looking when everybody else said ‘We can’t find anything,’” he said.

Ferguson was booked into the Hays County Jail.

Maya Fawaz is KUT's Hays County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at mfawaz@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @mayagfawaz.
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