One year later, ‘suspicious’ barn fire remains a mystery

Box Elder Police Department seek tips from public

BOX ELDER, SD — One year ago, a barn fire in Box Elder was deemed suspicious and today, investigators are still stumped, looking for answers.

“The barn was abandoned,” said Rapid City Fire Department Battalion Chief Jimmy Massey in a press conference the day of the fire. “It’s somewhat suspicious in nature.”

On July 26, 2018, around 8 a.m., firefighters responded to a barn on fire, just off Interstate 90. Witnesses telling first responders about a car that appeared to have been inside. After speaking with the property owner, more questions arose.

“He was able to tell us, there shouldn’t have been a car in that barn,” said Det. Duane Peyrot with the Box Elder Police Department.

Now one year later, questions about the cause, the car involved, and who is responsible, remain.

Peyrot says the initial investigation began with making sure there was no person or persons in the vehicle. There were not. Next, they moved to trying to identify the type of vehicle.


“Real quick, people start telling us Dodge Durango, Jeep Wrangler, something like that,” said Peyrot. “But the VIN numbers are just not where anybody is telling us. When you run part numbers, it gives you a guide range but even with the those ranges, it tells us where to look for VIN numbers and we’re still not finding them.”

Peyrot says there was no evidence of numbers being filed down and destroyed. One place to still check is the engine, where an identification number may reside.

“But the hood being aluminum, has melted so thoroughly over the engine, it’ll take picks and shovels to get into that thing,” said Peyrot.

He says, they would need a controlled, clean environment to break open the engine but the opportunity hasn’t come about yet, leaving the case wide open.

“Not having anyone complain about a missing vehicle, I mean, what is it?”

Following up with body shop experts, car manufacturers, insurance companies, and other law enforcement agencies, still nothing. The nearest security camera is over half a mile away.

“My suspicion is the owner of the car would rather not tell us the rest of the story of why their car got burnt down,” said Peyrot.

The department says they’ve put out bulletins for information both in public and among law enforcement agencies across the country but Peyrot says more tips are welcome, both big or small.

“Even if its something like ‘my neighbors used to have this Dodge product and that day it went missing and I haven’t seen it since’,” said Peyrot. “Everything is worthy of a follow up.”

He says the case remains on their radar. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Box Elder Police Department at (605) 923-1401.

Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News